Israel blocks Ukraine missile deal – media
Israel will not permit Germany to sell Spike anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, according to a report by US outlet Axios on Wednesday. The missile is produced in Germany under an Israeli license, and Tel Aviv has to approve its export. The Pentagon asked the top Israeli Defense Ministry official for approval during his visit to Washington earlier this month, but was denied.
Israel is concerned that Russian soldiers could be killed by Israeli-made weapons, which would then lead to Moscow harming Tel Aviv’s security interests in Syria, an anonymous senior Israeli official told Axios.
The issue came up two weeks ago, when the director general of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Amir Eshel, visited the US. The Pentagon’s undersecretary for policy, Colin Kahl, had asked permission for Germany to export Spikes to Ukraine, according to the officials who spoke with Axios. Eshel said no, telling Kahl that Israel will only supply Kiev with non-lethal military equipment.
When Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz went to Washington last Wednesday, the question of missiles reportedly did not come up at his meetings with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. On the day of his visit, Israel announced it was sending 2,000 helmets and 500 protective vests to Ukraine.
The Pentagon did not officially comment on the report.
Developed by the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel, the Spike first entered service in the 1980s. The missile can be armed with either an anti-tank or a high-explosive warhead, and either wire-guided by an operator or fired in a line of sight. The US and some of its NATO allies have mounted it on attack helicopters.
The US and its allies have been shipping thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, as well as artillery, armored vehicles, tanks, and attack helicopters in recent weeks. Russia claims much of that weaponry ends up being destroyed by cruise missile strikes. There has also been some friction between NATO allies. Poland accused Germany of not sending its Leopard tanks to replace hundreds of T-72s that Warsaw had sent to Kiev.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said the situation in Donbass was “extremely bad,” and that unless the US sent Kiev multiple rocket launcher systems (MLRS), its forces won’t be able to go on the offensive.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.