US in Talks to Send Israeli Patriot Air Defense Systems to Ukraine – FT

If agreed, the deal “would mark a shift” in Israeli-Russian relations, the paper has claimed

The Financial Times has reported, citing people familiar with the negotiations, that the US, Israel, and Ukraine are discussing the delivery of up to eight older Israeli Patriot air-defense systems to Kiev.

The paper reported on Thursday that the deal, which has not been finalized, would likely involve the Patriots being initially sent from Israel to the US before being supplied to Ukraine, which faces a shortage of air defenses in its conflict with Russia.

Sources stated that recent talks concerning the potential delivery of the US-made systems involved ministers and senior officials from the three nations, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, and Andrey Yermak, the chief of staff for Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky.

The FT reported that while the supply of eight defense systems was discussed, not all of them may end up in Ukraine.

In April, Israel announced plans to retire its M901 PAC-2 batteries, which are more than 30 years old, and replace them with more advanced air-defense systems. However, the eight Patriots in question have not yet been decommissioned due to government concerns that rising tensions with the Lebanese armed movement Hezbollah could escalate into a full-scale war.

According to the FT, Kiev currently possesses at least four Patriot systems, provided by the US and Germany. In late March, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that since the start of the year, its forces have destroyed five Patriots operated by Ukraine.

When asked for a comment on the report, Kuleba stated that “Ukraine continues to work with various countries around the world on obtaining additional Patriot systems.” The foreign minister told FT that the Kiev authorities “urge all countries that have such systems to provide them to Ukraine.”

Throughout the conflict between Moscow and Kiev, Israel has only provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine, refraining from sending any weapons. A year ago, the country rejected a demand by Vladimir Zelensky for Israeli Iron Dome air-defense systems. At the time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israel needed all of its Iron Dome batteries to ensure “freedom of action” in Syria, a region with a significant Russian military presence. He also expressed concern that if Israeli weapons were captured on the battlefield in Ukraine, they could eventually be given to Iran.

The FT noted that a deal to supply the Patriot systems to Ukraine “would mark a shift” in Israel’s relations with Russia.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that deliveries of weapons and ammunition to Kiev by the US and its allies will not prevent Russia from achieving its military goals, but will only prolong the fighting. According to Russian officials, the provision of arms, sharing of intelligence, and training of Ukrainian troops effectively means that Western nations have become de facto participants in the conflict.