The United States is sending weapons and ammunition stored in Israel to Ukraine for use in the war against Russia, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, claiming the decision was made last year.
An Israeli official confirmed the report to Reuters, detailing that then-Prime Minister Yair Lapid gave the go-ahead for the transfer, although the United States does not formally need such consent.
For decades, the Pentagon has stored munitions in Israel to serve as emergency resupply for the country in times of war or for delivery to other US allies.
According to the New York Times, the ammunition that Washington decided to move from Israel to Ukraine is about 300,000 155-millimeter artillery shells. About half have been sent to Europe for redistribution to Ukraine, according to the newspaper.
Military analysts consulted by the Times noted that “artillery forms the backbone of ground combat firepower for both Ukraine and Russia, and the outcome of the war may depend on which side runs out of ammunition first.”
Asked about the report, an Israeli military spokesman limited himself to saying: “The US material that was stored in Israel was transferred to the US military a few weeks ago at their request.”
If such transfers have taken place or will take place under the watchful eye of conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who regained the head of state on December 29, it could test the rapport he built with Russian President Vladimir Putin in previous terms.
Netanyahu has spoken of reviewing Israel’s policy on the Ukraine-Russia war, but has not promised any direct arms supplies to kyiv. Lapid, a centrist who was prime minister for six months, has expressed his solidarity with Ukraine.
The US embassy in Israel had no immediate comment on the New York Times report. Ukrainian Ambassador Yevgen Korniychuk told Reuters by telephone that he had “no idea” whether the report was true. The Russian embassy declined to comment.
For its part, the Jerusalem Post indicated that a source from the Israel Defense Forces assured that the US will replace the weapons transferred to Ukraine and clarified that the shipment “does not mean a change in Israeli policy when it comes to providing military aid to Ukraine.” ”.
Although Israel has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it has limited its assistance to kyiv to humanitarian aid and protective equipment.
The Israelis want to maintain a coordination hotline with Russia, established in 2015, over its military strikes against suspected Iranian targets in Syria, where Moscow has a garrison. They also have in mind the well-being of the large Jewish community in Russia.
Although US munitions stored in Israel are in their custody, “the Americans do not need our permission to move them. They are American property,” David Ivry, former director general of Israel’s Defense Ministry, told Reuters.
(With information from Reuters)