Zelensky Claims Netanyahu considering air defense systems for Ukraine

Ukrainian media reports that the Israeli prime minister-designate promised to deal with the issue ‘as soon as possible.’

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Ukrainian media reported Wednesday that prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu promised Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky in a recent phone call to seriously consider his request for air-defense systems.

“We had a normal, substantive conversation, because the list of subjects was provided by our side,” the president told local journalists during a news telethon that constantly reports on the status of various parts of the country since the Russian invasion began in February.

“We conveyed all the nuances related to air defense,” he said. “This is the number one priority. He assured me that he would deal with this issue as soon as possible, or think about where he can help, and will return with an answer.”

Zelensky stressed that he did not ask Israel for offensive weapons.

Russia has been launching barrages of missiles at Ukrainian cities in recent weeks, seeking to knock out critical infrastructure such as gas, water and electricity before the fierce cold of winter sets in.

While this is the first time Kyiv is turning to Netanyahu as presumptive head of state, Ukraine has made numerous requests for defensive military equipment of Israel’s outgoing government, including anti-missile systems such as the Iron Dome.

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On November 8, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that even if Israel wanted to help Ukraine beyond its current stance of sending humanitarian aid and personal military wear such as helmets and bullet-proof vests, it could not do so.

“It is clear that even if it decided that we change our policy, it is impossible to empty our supply of air defense systems,” he noted. “We are checking every day what can be done and how we can expand our aid, but we must not forget that NATO stands behind Ukraine.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. Defense Department reported on the seventh meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a group of 50 countries and organizations helping Ukraine militarily and otherwise. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the online forum that since the last time it met, in October, “seven countries have either delivered critical air defense systems to Ukraine or committed to sending them.”

This includes several American-made National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAM), which are already operational, Austin said.

“Their performance, so far, has been very impressive,” he told the group. “The NASAMS systems had a 100% success rate and intercepting Russian missiles.”

Additional missiles for American Hawk air defense systems Ukraine has already received, will be included the Americans’ newest $400 million military aid package, announced on November 4. Offensive weapons such as a few hundred armored personnel carriers, dozens of upgraded Soviet tanks, and 1,100 Phoenix Ghost tactical drones are also included in the package.