Zelensky Again Implores Israel for Military Aid, Slams Inaction Over Iran-Russia Alliance
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday issued another impassioned plea for Israeli military assistance as his country’s armed forces attempt to reverse the Russian invasion, citing Moscow’s “alliance” with Iran as the key strategic justification for a shift in Israel’s policy of only providing the democratic government in Kyiv with humanitarian aid and defensive equipment.
In a pre-recorded message to a conference hosted by the Israeli news outlet Haaretz, Zelensky emphasized that the words “Iran” and “Iranian” were frequently mentioned at operational meetings of Ukrainian military and intelligence leaders. He said these were words “that are constantly heard in Israel when you talk about the survival of your state.”
However, he added, at the same meetings, the contributions of Ukraine’s allies were also discussed. “Unfortunately, the words ‘Israel’ or ‘Israeli’ are not heard at that moment,” the Ukrainian leader said.
The Israeli government remained unmoved by Zelensky’s latest appeal, reiterating its stance against the provision of military aid to Ukraine. Following a conversation on Monday with his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz stated that there were “operational limitations faced by the State of Israel” — a reference to the Russian military presence in neighboring Syria, where both Russia and Iran have been backing the dictatorship of President Bashar al-Assad.
“As a result, Israel will not provide weapon systems to Ukraine,” a statement from Gantz’s office said.
Gantz’s statement came amid reports that the Israeli Air Force has been attacking Iranian targets near Syria’s International Damascus airport on Monday, according to a report from the Syrian regime’s Sana news agency.
In recent months, Israel has stepped up air strikes on Syrian airports in order to obstruct Iranian deliveries of arms to proxies in Syria and Lebanon, including the Hezbollah terrorist organization. Israel claims to have struck 90 percent of Iran’s military operations in Syria, according to officials cited in reports in the Hebrew press during the last week.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, Israel has reportedly been sharing “basic intelligence” with Kyiv regarding Moscow’s use of Iranian-made Shahed-136 “suicide” drones.
In his message on Monday, Zelensky argued strongly that Iran’s “alliance” with Russia necessitated a decisive Israeli response. He said that Russia’s reliance on Iranian drones was the consequence of Moscow’s fast depleting stock of missiles, 4,500 which had already been fired at Ukrainian targets, he claimed.
“The disgusting sound of Iranian drones is heard in our skies every night,” Zelensky said. He added that according to Ukrainian intelligence, Russia had ordered another 2,000 Shahed drones from Iran as well as “missiles and other drones.”
Stressing that Ukraine had been urging Israel to supply military aid since the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014, Zelensky insisted that Iran’s motivation in allying with Russia was not financial but connected with its desire for Moscow’s assistance with its nuclear program.
“Probably, this is the exact reason for their alliance,” Zelensky said. “And this alliance of theirs would simply not have happened if your [Israeli] politicians had made only one decision at the time.”
Zelensky’s remarks on Monday came one month after he declared himself “shocked” at Israel’s reluctance to supply weaponry in a television interview. In the interim, other Ukrainian leaders and several prominent Israelis have echoed his call, among them Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, who encouraged Jerusalem to provide military aid “just like the US and NATO countries provide.”
At a meeting with Jewish leaders last week, Andriy Yermak — Zelensky’s chief of staff — described Russia as the “European Hezbollah,” arguing that Israel’s basic security interests were being undermined by Iran’s involvement in Ukraine.
The same meeting also heard from the former head of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, one of the most prominent refuseniks of the Soviet era.
” I, like everyone present here, believe that being together with Ukraine at this moment is not just a moral obligation, it is in the interests of Israel,” Sharansky declared.