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Israel said providing Kyiv with intel on Iranian suicide drones

Ukrainian official tells NY Times Israel has given information on Shahed-136 UAVs, while private Israeli firm helping with satellite imagery

The wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone downed near Kupiansk, Ukraine, September 13, 2022. (Ukrainian military's Strategic Communications Directorate via AP)
The wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone downed near Kupiansk, Ukraine, September 13, 2022. (Ukrainian military's Strategic Communications Directorate via AP)

A senior Ukrainian official has said Israel is providing Ukraine with “basic intelligence” on Iranian suicide drones being deployed by the Russian army, according to a report in The New York Times.

Wednesday’s report, which cited an anonymous Ukrainian source, also said that a private Israeli security firm was giving the Ukrainians satellite imagery of Russian military positions.

Wednesday reportedly saw nine suicide drones shot down by Ukrainian forces, with some 50 shot down throughout the week, with the Ukrainian official adding that the drones have not been as effective as Moscow had hoped because they are “slow” and “easy to target.” The Times noted that it was unable to independently verify the statistics.

In September, Russia began using the Iranian-made Shahed-136 drone, after it reportedly received delivery of hundreds of units from Tehran, despite Washington warning the Iranians against exporting the weapon.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked Israel to provide air defense systems, listing the Jewish state as one of five countries possessing the technology to help the Ukrainians against aerial attack during a September CNN interview.

But Jerusalem has resisted providing Kyiv with significant defensive or offensive weaponry, as it tries to protect its sensitive relationship with Russia.

A man passes past a rocket crater at playground in city park in center Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 11, 2022. Russia had retaliated for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread strikes against Ukraine in months. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Since Russian invaded Ukraine in February, Israel has sought to preserve ties with Moscow, particularly due to the Russian military presence in neighboring Syria, where the Israeli Air Force has regularly struck Iranian-linked targets. It is also believed to be wary of the effects of a strong pro-Ukrainian state on Russia’s Jewish population.

In September, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site Zman Yisrael reported that a private Israeli defense contractor was providing Ukraine with anti-drone technology.

The report said that the technology was being sold to Warsaw, and from there being transferred to Kyiv, in order to circumvent Jerusalem’s policy not to provide advanced defensive weaponry to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukraine renewed its campaign this week to pressure the West into providing more advanced defensive weaponry, as Russia steps up its attacks against Ukraine, following the Crimean bridge truck bomb on Saturday.

The New York Times report said that Germany has begun to transfer four anti-missile units so advanced that German forces have yet to even use the technology.

The Netherlands and France have committed to providing defensive weaponry to Ukraine, while US President Joe Biden agreed to provide two units of National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, known as NASAMS, which provide short-to-medium range coverage of 30-50 kilometers (18 to 30 miles).

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