Netanyahu warns weapons provided to Ukraine could end up in Iran

The Ukrainian foreign minister said that his country will send an official request to the State of Israel asking for air defense systems.

 Leader of the Opposition and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media  in Tel Aviv on October 3, 2022.  (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Leader of the Opposition and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media in Tel Aviv on October 3, 2022.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

Calling to sever diplomatic relations with Iran, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday that his country will send an official request to the State of Israel asking for air defense systems and the start of high-quality cooperation on providing technology to Ukraine.

"Today, Ukraine will send an official note to the government of Israel with a request to urgently provide Ukraine with anti-aircraft systems and to start high-quality cooperation on obtaining appropriate technologies for Ukraine," said Kuleba.

The foreign minister stressed that he does "not see any objective reasons why" military cooperation with Israel should not happen.

"Iran is a red line for Israel, and after Iran has directly, in fact, become complicit in the crime of aggression against Ukraine, I think anyone in Israel who still has any hesitation about whether or not to help Ukraine, he must dispel these hesitations," added Kuleba.

 A part of an unmanned aerial vehicle, what Ukrainian military authorities described as an Iranian made suicide drone Shahed-136 and which was shot down near the town of Kupiansk, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, is seen in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released September 13, 2022 (credit: THE STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTORATE OF THE UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS) A part of an unmanned aerial vehicle, what Ukrainian military authorities described as an Iranian made suicide drone Shahed-136 and which was shot down near the town of Kupiansk, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, is seen in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released September 13, 2022 (credit: THE STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTORATE OF THE UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

"Today, without exaggeration, the same drones that destroy Ukraine are aimed at Israel. I think that this says it all, and I think that this should be the starting point for the development of Israeli policy."

Additionally on Tuesday, Kuleba submitted a proposal to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to sever diplomatic relations with Iran in light of Iranian support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Taking into account the numerous destructions caused by Iranian drones to the civil infrastructure of Ukraine, the deaths and sufferings caused to our people, as well as in connection with the emergence of reports about the possible continuation of Iran's supply of weapons to Russia, I submit to the consideration of the president of Ukraine a proposal to sever diplomatic relations with Iran," said the foreign minister.

Kuleba additionally stressed that Ukraine has a "bag of evidence" proving that Iran is providing Russia with drones to use in the war.

The Prime Minister's Office declined to comment on Kuleba's statements on Tuesday.

Nachman Shai: Ukrainians are entitled to protection

Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai recently called for Israel to provide military aid to Ukraine, stressing that "There is no longer any doubt where Israel should stand in this bloody conflict."

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned on Monday that Israel providing arms to Kyic would be a "very reckless move" and would "destroy government relations between our countries.”

In response to the Russian uproar against his comments, Shai told Army Radio on Tuesday that "The Russian bear is not angry at Turkey that provides drones to Ukraine, nor at other countries outside of Europe that help - but as soon as Lapid issued a severe condemnation then he woke up. Ukrainian citizens are entitled to receive protection."

In an interview with MSNBC later on Tuesday, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu warned that any weapons provided to Ukraine could end up in Iran's hands.

Netanyahu stressed that he believed the current Israeli policy towards the Ukraine-Russia war was "prudent," pointing to the acceptance of refugees and the provision of humanitarian aid.

The former prime minister rejected, however, the idea of providing weapons to Ukraine.

Netanyahu: Weapons given to Ukraine could end up in Iran's hands

"On the question of weapons there's always a possibility, and this has happened time and again, that weapons that we supplied in one battlefield end up in Iranian hands used against us," said Netanyahu. "In the Golan Heights, where we're trying to prevent Iran from creating a second Lebanon front, a second terrorist front against us, we encounter Israeli made weapons."

Netanyahu added that he believes that the greatest danger of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is that it could expand into a "global conflict," including the possible use of nuclear weapons.

"I don't think it makes that much difference if it's tactical nuclear weapons or strategic nuclear weapons, that threshold has not been crossed for 77 years and I think what is required right now is a combination of firmness and prudence to make sure that this conflict ends and certainly doesn't spread."

In July, Netanyahu attacked the current government for its handling of diplomatic relations amid the conflict, calling the situation a "dangerous crisis in relations between Russia and Israel."

The former prime minister claimed that Israel had been leading a "considered, balanced and responsible relationship with Russia" up until the current government in an attack on direct criticism by Prime Minister Yair Lapid against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"This happens because of a combination of amateurism, irresponsibility, and arrogance," said Netanyahu at the time, calling on Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to "stop the shouting."

Iranian drones being used by Russia against Ukraine

Since the US first issued warnings that Russia was planning to acquire drones from Iran to use in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has been documented using Iranian drones in strikes on Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian Air Force announced that it had shot down five Iranian Shahed-136 kamikaze drones.

Kyrylo Oleksiyovych Budanov, chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Defense Ministry, warned on Tuesday that the air defense systems being supplied to Ukraine are "completely insufficient."

Budanov added that the first batch of drones Russia ordered from Iran consisted of 1,750 units, with new orders made as well. "They are gradually exhausting them, the Iranians are making new ones, but there is another side to this issue: we consistently shoot down about 70% of all drones," said Budanov.