Israel recently approved the export licenses for the possible sale of anti-drone jamming systems that could help Ukraine counter Iranian drones used by Russia during the war, three Israeli and Ukrainian officials told Axios on Wednesday.
This marks the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago that Israel has approved defense export licenses for possible weapons sales to Ukraine.
Israel has delivered several tons of humanitarian assistance and defensive equipment to Ukraine during the war, but has stopped short of selling advanced weapons to Kyiv, fearing such a move could create tension with Russia and harm Israeli security interests in Syria.
According to Axios, After Russia started using Iranian-made attack drones during the war, the Ukrainian government increased its pressure for Israeli military assistance.
Ukrainian officials have claimed that providing weapons systems to Ukraine is in Israel's best interest because Iran is able to gain information about how the drones perform and then make improvements.
Iran has acknowledged it delivered some drones to Russia before the war started, but denies doing so after the invasion began. Russia denies using Iranian-made drones during the war, despite growing evidence to the contrary.
The approval of the export licenses by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen came in mid-February as Israel was conducting a Netanyahu-ordered review of its policy toward the war, the Israeli and Ukrainian officials said. That review has been completed but no new decisions have been made, according to Israeli officials.
Cohen notified Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the approval during his trip to Kyiv on Feb. 15.
The licenses were approved for two Israeli companies — Elbit and Rafael — that develop anti-drone systems, Israeli and Ukrainian officials told Axios.
A Ukrainian official told Axios that a delegation from Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense visited Israel recently to get a presentation on the anti-drone systems. No deal has been signed yet.
Zelenskyy was critical of the previous government and denounced the lack of aid from Israel during the war with Russia, saying his country got “nothing” from Israel.
He later reversed course and said he sees a "positive trend" in Kyiv's relations with Israel after the two countries shared intelligence about Russia's purported use of hundreds of Iranian drones in the war in Ukraine.
Ukraine's Ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk, recently said his country would give Israel’s new government a chance.