According to three officials from Israel and Ukraine, export licenses have been granted by Israel for the potential sale of counter-drone systems. These systems could assist Ukraine in countering Russian use of Iranian drones in the ongoing conflict.
This report is significant as it is the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, that Israel has approved defense export licenses for possible weapons sales to Ukraine. Israel has been cautious about providing military aid to Ukraine, as doing so could potentially create tension with Russia and undermine Israeli security interests in Syria.
Following Russia’s use of Iranian-made attack drones during the conflict, the Ukrainian government has intensified its push for military assistance from Israel. Ukrainian officials argue that providing weapons systems to Ukraine would benefit Israel, as Iran could use the information on drone performance to improve their technology.
Although Iran has admitted to supplying some drones to Russia prior to the conflict, it denies doing so after the invasion began. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, Russia continues to deny the use of Iranian-made drones during the war.
Israeli and Ukrainian officials have stated that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen approved the export licenses in mid-February while Israel reviewed its war policy under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Although the review has since been completed, Israeli officials have not made any new decisions regarding the policy.
A missile defense system is needed
Israeli and Ukrainian officials have reported that the approved licenses were granted to two Israeli companies, namely Elbit and Rafael, which specialize in developing counter-drone systems. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry is interested in the systems, but they are viewed as less critical because Ukraine has been able to intercept the drones between 75–90% of the time, the Ukrainian officials said. “What we really need is a defensive system against ballistic missiles,” a Ukrainian official told Axios.
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