Israel participating in US-led summit on arming Ukraine

Israel’s presence would indicate a shift in policy, which till now has only sent humanitarian aid.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Israel is one of 43 countries participating in a U.S.-led summit seeking ways to provide arms to Ukraine.

Tuesday’s gathering at the Ramstein U.S. Air Force Base in Germany is “focused on doing things to generate additional capability and capacity for the Ukrainian forces,” according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The summit is being attended by all of NATO’s member countries and other U.S. allies in Europe, Asia and the Mideast. Also attending is Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

Israel’s presence would indicate a shift in policy, which till now has only sent humanitarian aid, including a field hospital, and as of last week, flak jackets and helmets.

Jerusalem has been cautious in supporting Ukraine because it does not want to damage strained security coordination with Moscow over Syria. Russia generally turns a blind eye to Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria.

The Defense Ministry confirmed to the Times of Israel that Israel is being represented at the summit by Brig. Gen. (Res.) Dror Shalom, head of the Defense Ministry’s Political-Military Bureau.

According to Haaretz, Defense Minister Benny Gantz declined a U.S. invitation, citing upcoming Yom HaShoah commemorations which begin on Wednesday evening.

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Western media reports suggest that Ukraine is especially interested in anti-aircraft systems and aerial attack drones, which have been very effective against Russian forces.

Kyiv is known to be keenly interested in acquiring Israeli missile defense systems such as Iron Dome to protect Ukrainian sites from constant Russian rocket barrages. Israel has so far refrained from providing its Iron Dome systems.