May 4, 2022 - World

Israel weighs expanding military aid to Ukraine after U.S. request

A demonstrator holds an Israeli flag during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine in Tel Aviv on March 20. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

A Tel Aviv demonstrator holds an Israeli flag on March 20 during a protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration last week asked the Israeli government to consider increasing its military aid to Ukraine, U.S. and Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: Taking a careful approach to the war, Israel has so far refused Ukraine's requests for advanced weaponry, and only last month agreed to send thousands of helmets and bulletproof vests for medical teams and first responders. But as Israel takes a more critical public line against Russia, it's signaling it is increasingly open to supplying Ukraine with certain nonlethal military equipment.

Behind the scenes: Israel last week sent Dror Shalom, the head of the political-military bureau at the Ministry of Defense, to Ramstein Air Base in Germany for a U.S.-led meeting on sending weapons to Ukraine.

  • The Biden administration made it clear to the Israelis that the U.S. understands its complicated situation with Russia and appreciates what it has done so far in terms of aid to Ukraine, but hopes it could do more in providing military equipment, U.S. and Israeli officials said.
  • This message was delivered during a meeting between White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart, Eyal Hulata, at the White House last week and in conversations between the Pentagon and the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
  • The White House declined to comment.

State of play: A senior Israeli official said the Israeli government is considering increasing its military aid to Ukraine and is likely to do it as the war continues. But the official stressed Israel will only provide nonlethal military equipment.

  • A senior Ukrainian official told me Ukraine doesn’t expect Israel to provide it with lethal weapons, but said it wants to use several pre-existing export licenses from the Israeli Ministry of Defense for communications gear and anti-drone systems.
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