Israel’s Defense Ministry announced Monday that it had delivered three more armored ambulances to Ukraine’s emergency services, given Russia’s nearly year-long invasion of the country.
The first of the four ambulances was delivered several weeks ago, “and is already assisting rescue forces in life-saving activities,” the ministry said.
The bullet-proof Mercedes Sprinter ambulances were armored by the Israeli Plasan Re’em company. They are equipped with “life-saving medical gear such as a monitor, defibrillator, oxygen system, and more,” the ministry said.
Jerusalem has so far avoided providing direct military aid to Kyiv — including offensive arms or advanced defensive technology — since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24 last year, in an attempt to avoid sparking a crisis with Moscow.
Israel has, however, provided defensive equipment to Ukraine’s emergency and rescue forces, as well as tons of humanitarian aid and setting up a field hospital in western Ukraine for several weeks.
Last July, then-defense minister Benny Gantz approved a shipment of defensive aid including 1,500 helmets, 1,500 protective vests, hundreds of mine protection suits, 1,000 gas masks, and dozens of hazmat filtration systems. This followed a shipment of 2,000 helmets and 500 flak jackets last April, after months of Jerusalem dragging its feet on the matter.
Israel is one of the few countries that maintains relatively warm relations with both Ukraine, a fellow Western democracy, and Russia. But Israel has found itself at odds with Russia, and has increasingly supported Ukraine while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies, which are largely controlled by Moscow.
Last week, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and accepted the latter’s invitation to visit Kyiv.
Cohen will be the most senior Israeli official to visit since the war started 11 months ago.
During the phone call, Cohen also pledged to permanently reopen Israel’s embassy in Kyiv within 60 days. The embassy has been open for two-week periods, with the staff otherwise working from Poland.