Ukraine wants Iron Dome sale from Israel, blasts anti-tank missile refusal

"I want the Israeli government to move away from its comfort zone and get back to reality," Ukraine's Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said.

 Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Kyiv wants to purchase Israel’s Iron Dome air defenses system and for Jerusalem to sign off on the transfer of its Spike SR anti-tank guided missile system from Germany to Ukraine, the country’s ambassador, Yevgen Korniychuk, told reporters on Tuesday.

“Last week, from what I know for sure, Americans gave permission for the anti-spike missiles to be transferred from Germany to Ukraine, and Israel said no,” said Korniychuk, adding that Berlin wanted to make the transfer.

In so doing, he confirmed a report first published in Walla that Israel had refused to sign off on the transfer of its anti-tank defense system, produced by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

Rafael has already sold the SPIKE 5th-generation ATGM (anti-tank guided missile) to 18 European Union and NATO members.

The Israeli missile, which is capable of penetrating 99.06 cm. (39 inches) of armor, can be operated in either a direct attack or mid-course navigation based on target coordinates only. These modes enable the destruction of long-range hidden targets with pinpoint precision, damage assessment and obtaining real-time intelligence.

 Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

With non-line-of-sight capabilities, SPIKE has a range of up to 32 km., and can be fired from vehicles, helicopters, ships and ground launchers. The ATGM has advanced electro-optic seekers that include the capabilities of a smart target tracker with artificial intelligence features, increasing its lethality.

Designed to be used against new modern targets with a low signature and time-sensitive characteristics, the SPIKE ATGM can be fired at grid target coordinates, including advanced armor and protection systems, making it one of the only missiles in the world with this capability.

The ambassador had just returned from Ukraine, where he witnessed firsthand the war Russia has been waging on his country since February 24.

Israel's failures

Korniychuk spoke of his frustration over Israel’s failure to provide Ukraine with defensive military assistance, technical military support, and continued medical support, including its refusal to treat Ukrainian soldiers in its hospitals.

Israel is no longer focused on the war, Korniychuk charged. “Ukraine has been removed from the Israeli press almost completely,” he said. “So there is no war anymore.”

The absence of war news is reflective of the government’s unease with the war, he said, such that it is more comfortable placing the war on the back burner.

“I want the Israeli government to move away from its comfort zone and get back to reality,” said Korniychuk. “We need Israeli assistance... I mean that we need the military-technical support; we need Iron Dome,... which will allow us to save our civilian women and children from the shelling of the Russian missiles in our territory.”

AT ISSUE for Israel, in particular, is the presence of Russian forces in Syria on its northern border, and the continued need to coordinate with Moscow its aerial attacks there against Iranian targets.

Israel has hesitated to provide Ukraine with any military assistance, even that of a defensive nature, given that it has attempted to maintain ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, serving both sides as a go-between negotoiator.

Korniychuk said that the Iron Dome system is not a weapon, but a tool that will save civilian lives.

“I do not want to call this a weapon,” he said. “I call it protective gear that will protect our civilians. You can not kill with it.”

Korniychuk clarified that his country wanted to purchase the Iron Dome. “We don’t need a donation, we want to buy it,” he said.

Sources say that Israel will unlikely sell the Iron Dome to Ukraine, or any other country, because of regulations signed with the US regarding defense exports, and international obligations to control the country’s defense export market.

Nevertheless, David’s Sling and SPYDER air defense systems that are also manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems are systems that could be provided.

The SPYDER has already been purchased by several countries, including the Czech Republic and the Philippines. The mobile system incorporates Rafael’s advanced Python-5 and I-Derby missiles to provide short-, medium-, and long-range protection against a range of threats including attack aircraft, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and stand-off weapons.

Using electro-optical observation payload and wireless data link communication, the system can engage multiple threats simultaneously up to 80 km. away in all weather conditions.

When it comes to the Israeli military, Korniychuk said, “we have had zero military-technical cooperation with Israel since the war started.”

Even limited aid such as a request for 20,000 protective vests and helmets was problematic, he said, as Ukraine received only 2,000 helmets and 5,000 vests – which were a grade three and not a grade five, so they were less effective.

Similarly, he said, Israel excels at prosthetic treatment, but has not agreed to treat Ukrainian soldiers who lost arms and legs in the fighting and cannot return to the battlefield, effectively rendering them civilians in need.

“They will not be able to fight, they are just human beings,” Korniychuk said. “We are in discussions with the Health Ministry for more than a month now.”

Korniychuk said he was grateful for the humanitarian assistance Israel has rendered, but that it has simply not been enough, and has not been targeted to address the country’s needs in what is turning into a very protracted war.

“Israel does not owe Ukraine anything,” Korniychuk said. “We are not begging you for help. We do believe that on the moral side, Israel has to take the part of the rest of the Western world and help Ukraine with all possible means.”