Moscow warns Israel against supplying any arms to Ukraine

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on January 30, 2020. (Kremlin)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on January 30, 2020. (Kremlin)

Russia warns Israel against supplying weapons to Ukraine after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was considering military aid for Kyiv and was willing to mediate in the conflict.

“We say that all countries that supply weapons (to Ukraine) should understand that we will consider these (weapons) to be legitimate targets for Russia’s armed forces,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova tells reporters.

The Kremlin has warned of an escalation in the conflict as Ukraine’s Western partners vow more weapons for Kyiv.

“Any attempts — implemented or even unrealized but announced for the supply of additional, new or some other weapons — lead and will lead to an escalation of this crisis. And everyone should be aware of this,” Zakharova says.

In an interview with CNN yesterday, Netanyahu tells Jake Tapper that he has been asked before to mediate the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and he would “certainly consider” doing so if asked again, but only if the US agreed.

“If I’m asked by both sides, and frankly, if I’m asked by the United States — because I think, you know, you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen … and you know, we have our own backyard to deal with,” Netanyahu says.

Netanyahu said he was “looking into” providing the country with “other kinds of aid” besides humanitarian help, amid concerns over Israel’s “complex relationship” with Russia and its need to retain “freedom of action” in Syria in its effort to “keep Iran in check.”

The warning from Moscow also comes after reports in recent weeks that Israel has refused requests from the US to hand over ten Hawk anti-aircraft batteries and hundreds of interceptor missiles for delivery to Ukraine.

However, The New York Times reported last month that the US military was quietly shipping hundreds of thousands of artillery shells to Ukraine from a massive stockpile it has in Israel.

The armaments were stored for the US to use in regional conflicts, and Israel has permission to use some of the supplies in emergency situations, the report says.

Netanyahu tells CNN that it’s an American decision and he “has no problem” with that.

Israel has resisted providing weapons to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion. One major reason for Israel’s hesitance appears to be its strategic need to maintain freedom of operations in Syria, where Russian forces largely control the airspace.

The issue has strained ties between Jerusalem and Kyiv, as the Ukrainians have consistently pressed Israel to provide more defense aid. The Ukrainian ambassador earlier this month urged Israel to supply his country with missile defense systems in the wake of continued deadly Russian strikes.

Israel has provided large amounts of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, as well as other types of assistance, and the new government under Netanyahu has said it intends to keep those supplies flowing.

This week Israel sent Ukraine three armored ambulances.

AFP contributed to this report

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