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US in talks to send Israeli air-defense systems to Ukraine – FT

If agreed, the deal “would mark a shift” in Israeli-Russian relations, the paper has claimed

The US, Israel and Ukraine are in discussions to deliver up to eight old Israeli Patriot air-defense systems to Kiev, the Financial Times has reported, citing people familiar with the negotiations.

The deal, which has yet to be finalized, would likely see the Patriots first sent from Israel to the US, before being supplied to Ukraine, which is experiencing a shortage of air defenses in the conflict with Russia, the paper wrote on Thursday.

Recent talks on the possible delivery of the US-made systems involved ministers and senior officials from the three nations, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, as well as Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, and Vladimir Zelensky’s chief of staff Andrey Yermak, the sources said.

While the supply of eight defense systems was discussed, it’s possible that not all of them would end up in Ukraine, the FT reported.

READ MORE: US to redirect air defense orders to Ukraine – White House

In April, Israel announced plans to retire its M901 PAC-2 batteries, which are more than 30 years old, and replace them with more advanced air-defense systems. However, the eight Patriots in question have not been put out of service yet due to concerns by the government that growing tensions with Lebanese armed movement Hezbollah could escalate into an all-out war.

According to the FT, Kiev currently has at least four Patriot systems, which were supplied by the US and Germany. In late March, the Russian Defense Ministry said five Patriots operated by Ukraine had been destroyed by Moscow’s forces since the start of the year.

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When asked to comment on the report, Kuleba said “Ukraine continues to work with various countries around the world on obtaining additional Patriot systems.” The foreign minister told FT that the Kiev authorities “urge all countries that have such systems to provide them to Ukraine.”

Throughout the conflict between Moscow and Kiev, Israel has only provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine, refraining from sending any weapons. A year ago, the country rejected a demand by Vladimir Zelensky for Israeli Iron Dome air-defense systems. Back then, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel needed all of its Iron Dome batteries to ensure “freedom of action” in Syria, a region where there is a large Russian military presence. He also said that, if Israeli weapons were captured on the battlefield in Ukraine, they could eventually be given to Iran.

The FT noted that a deal to supply the Patriot systems to Ukraine “would mark a shift” in Israel’s relations with Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that deliveries of weapons and ammunition to Kiev by the US and its allies will not prevent Russia from achieving its military goals, but merely prolong the fighting. According to Russian officials, the provision of arms, sharing of intelligence, and training of Ukrainian troops effectively means that Western nations have become de facto parties to the conflict.

June 28, 2024 at 08:25PM

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