Ukraine’s leader has hit out at Israel’s refusal to hand over its Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, saying the attack on his country has brought Moscow and Tehran closer together.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has criticized Israel’s neutral stance in Ukraine’s war, saying its leaders’ decision not to support Kiev with arms encouraged Russia’s military cooperation with Iran.
During a conference hosted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Monday, Zelensky reiterated his request for Israel’s Iron Ball anti-missile defense technology to deter Russian strikes.
The Ukrainian army beats the Russians on the battlefield, but unfortunately we do not have our own Iron Bomb. “We still don’t have modern, effective air defense and anti-missile defense systems that can protect our skies,” he said via video link.
On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov that “Israel will not provide weapons systems to Ukraine.”
Since the Russian invasion in February, Israel has offered humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but has refused military equipment for fear of damaging relations with Russia.
Zelensky said that the decision not to “soften up” Russia by providing military aid to Ukraine created a partnership between Moscow and Tehran.
“If your politicians had made only one decision at that time, they would not have formed such a coalition,” Zelensky said. “… It seems that this was confirmed a long time ago, in 2014, when Russia began its aggression against Ukraine.”
The Ukrainian leader has repeatedly criticized Israel for failing to stand firm against Russia’s attacks on its nation.
Russian and Iranian nuclear programs?
Zelensky said that after Russia exhausted its missile stockpile, it began looking to other countries for weapons.
“It found them in Iran. I have a question for you: How do you think Russia pays Iran for this? Is Iran only interested in money? Maybe not money at all, but Russian assistance in Iran’s nuclear program.”
He said Russia had ordered about 2,000 Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones from Iran, which Kiev said Moscow had been using in recent attacks against Ukraine.
“The disgusting sounds of Iranian drones are heard in our skies every night. “According to our intelligence, Russia has ordered about 2,000 shahes from Iran,” Zelensky said. “Iranian instructors came to teach the Russians how to use drones [in Ukraine].”
Iran denies supplying Russia with weapons for war.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran has not supplied any side with weapons to be used in the Ukrainian war, and its policy is to oppose the arming of any side in order to end the war.”