Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has continued urging Israel to help "close the sky" over Ukraine even after statements from the Knesset made clear it will not send military aid to Kiev.
Zelensky made the repeat appeal in a virtual speech to a conference organized by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. "Isn't it time for your state to choose who you are with as well?" he said. That's when he charged that in refusing to send arms Israel is turning "a blind eye to Russian terror".
⚡️⚡️There would be no alliance between Russia and Iran if Israel helped close the sky | Zelensky pic.twitter.com/o7x4EzjLO5— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) October 24, 2022
"Is it with the democratic world, which is fighting side by side against the existential threat to its existence? Or with those who turn a blind eye to Russian terror, even when the cost of continued terror is the complete destruction of global security," Zelensky said provocatively of Israel.
The Ukrainian government has made multiple formal appeals for Israeli defense aid, particularly to obtain the Iron Dome anti-air defense system, since the Russian invasion began in February, after only humanitarian and protective aid has been sent. This limited aid has thus far included items like helmets and bulletproof vests.
"This is the decision of your governments… not to annoy the Kremlin, which was adopted a long time ago," Zelensky said. "If we had immediately secured our skies when faced with a missile and drone threat, Russia would not even have a motive now to go to Iran and offer it something in exchange for assistance in terror."
In essence Zelensky charged that Israel's inaction is facilitating Iran's expanding influence and its moving toward a nuclear weapon, as Axios described of his Monday remarks:
The Ukrainian president claimed the alliance between Russia and Iran would not have happened if Israel had made a decision to provide air defense systems to Ukraine when Russia invaded Crimea in 2014 — a decision Zelensky said was made under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and hasn't changed under the current Israeli government.
All of this comes at a sensitive moment in which Israel is fully aware of the widespread reports of Iranian drones deployed inside Ukraine by Russian forces.
Also on Monday Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov spoke by phone. Gantz stressed that Israel stands by Ukraine. But the call readout also stated: "Gantz emphasized the operational limitations faced by the State of Israel. As a result, Israel will not provide weapon systems to Ukraine."
These "limitations" are likely a reference to Syria, where Russia needs to maintain a strategic understanding with Russia concerning Iran's military presence there in support of Syria's Assad. Russia has in effect given a greenlight for Israel to strike Iranian forces and assets over recent years of the war.