Israel will send Ukraine helmets and bulletproof vests for medical teams and first responders, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz told his Ukrainian counterpart on Tuesday.
Since the first days of the war, Ukraine has asked Israel for protective gear and Israel has repeatedly refused, fearing backlash from Russia. While that policy has now changed, Israel is still not offering the advanced weapons systems Kyiv is requesting.
Gantz said in a statement that he told Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov that the Israeli Ministry of Defense will acquire the protective gear to be provided to Ukrainian rescue and emergency organizations.
“The Ministers also discussed Israel’s role as led by the Prime Minister and the international effort to bring an end to the war,” the statement said.
A large batch of Israeli Spike NLOS missile system and Blue Spear anti-ship cruise missile will be sent to Ukraine as part of a military aid package. As Global Defense Corp learned, Israel decided not to interfere with the supply of these weapons, although often the supply of any weapon required long discussions.
Estonia has bought a lot of weapons from Israel in the past year, including more than 500 Spike anti-tank missiles and the Blue Spear missile system for coastal defense.
Estonia, a small Baltic state bordering Russia, has also pledged €220 million in military aid to war-torn Ukraine in recent months. None of the weapons transferred to Ukraine are known to be Israeli thus far.
But Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said Jerusalem has not blocked Tallinn from giving Israeli arms to Ukraine, contrary to reports published earlier this year.
“I am not aware of any obstacles at the moment,” Liimets said, adding that if there was such a ban, she would have raised it in her meetings with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday. “So far, we have gotten permission from all countries of origin for what we wanted to donate.”
Pointing to her country’s contributions to Ukraine, Liimets said, “I think that every country who has defensive missiles should support Ukraine and donate or sell arms. I think it is very important because Ukraine is fighting for democratic values. I think they deserve the help of other democracies in this fight.”
Asked if she thinks Israel should do more, Liimets said, “We must all think constantly about what we can do more. We see civilians killed on a daily basis in Ukraine. This massacre in Ukraine is still ongoing. We must all do what we can and ask more from ourselves.”
Russia showed its “true face” when it launched its full-fledged war on Ukraine earlier this year, she said.
“They invade sovereign neighboring countries, they kill, they torture, they rape people,” Liimets said. “All of these horrible pictures that we have seen over the last two months clearly show that we need to push back at Russia’s aggression.”
As a member of NATO, Liimets said, Estonia “would like to see NATO strengthen its defense and deterrence posture at its eastern flank. We would like to see a forward defense concept fulfilled. That is something that we are working on at the moment within NATO.”
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