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19 Oct, 2022 14:54

Israel replies to Ukraine’s missile defense plea

The country's defense minister has rejected the call to send weapons to Kiev 
Israel replies to Ukraine’s missile defense plea

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has rebuffed a Ukrainian request for missile defense systems made after Russia recently stepped up missile and drone strikes on the country. 

“I want to make it clear that we are not selling weapons to Ukraine,” Gantz told the radio station Kol Chai on Tuesday.

“I am the defense minister, and I am responsible for the export of Israeli weapons,” he stated, adding that the country will continue to only send medical and humanitarian aid to Kiev.

Gantz’s remarks came after Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said on Tuesday that Kiev would formally request that Israel “immediately” deliver air defense systems to Ukraine and share military technology. 

“We see no objective reasons why this shouldn’t happen,” Kuleba said. He mentioned allegations that Israel’s rival, Iran, has been supplying Russia with kamikaze drones. He argued that, by doing so, Tehran became “an accomplice of the criminal aggression against Ukraine,” while Israel should reconsider its stance on military aid. Russia and Iran, meanwhile, have not confirmed the drone shipments. 

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid will meet Kuleba on Thursday, while Gantz plans to have a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Alexey Reznikov in the coming days, according to Israeli media. The newspaper Haaretz reported that Gantz had previously postponed the call several times, most recently on Monday.

Moscow has increased strikes on Ukraine this month after blaming Kiev for terrorist attacks on Russian soil, including the recent truck bombing that damaged the bridge connecting the Crimean Peninsula with Russia proper.