For the first time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Israel has authorized the sale of defensive military equipment to Kyiv, a report said Thursday.
According to the Walla news site, which cited three Israeli and Ukrainian officials, Jerusalem approved export licenses for two Israeli companies to sell electronic warfare systems with a range of some 40 kilometers (25 miles) that could be used to defend against drone attacks.
Russia has sent thousands of Iranian-made suicide drones to attack targets across Ukraine, particularly power stations and other crucial infrastructure.
The report said that the export licenses were approved by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in mid-February. Cohen then informed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of the decision during his visit in Kyiv.
A Ukrainian official told Walla that while the country was pleased with the development, it was still pressing Israel to supply anti-missile systems, saying: “On that, we have a gap that we are not managing to solve.”
Israel has until now resisted providing weapons to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in February 2022. 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.
Israeli officials told Walla that the approval of the export licenses was not a shift in policy because the systems are defensive in nature and do not use any live fire that can kill Russian soldiers.
“Israel is assisting Ukraine in the defense and civilian fields. Every request is being reviewed according to the defense export policy to Ukraine. We won’t elaborate on that for national security and foreign policy considerations,” the Defense Ministry told the outlet in response.