US Shipping Arms from Israel to Ukraine – NYT

by | Jan 18, 2023

US Shipping Arms from Israel to Ukraine – NYT

by | Jan 18, 2023

Pallets of munitions bound for Ukraine are seen inside a commercial aircraft at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, January 13, 2023. (Credit: US Air Force / Airman 1st Class Amanda Jett)

The US military is supplying Ukraine with hundreds of thousands of artillery shells pulled from a “vast but little-known” stockpile based in Israel, the New York Times reported, citing multiple US and Israeli officials. The previously undisclosed arms shipments are part of American efforts to keep Ukrainian troops flush with ammunition as Kiev burns through rounds faster than Western allies can produce them.

Tel Aviv has agreed to allow the Pentagon to draw around 300,000 155-millimeter shells from Israeli warehouses to help meet Ukraine’s “dire” need for ammo, the Times reported on Tuesday. While it’s unclear how long the arrangement has been in force, around half of those rounds – owned by the Pentagon but stored in Israel – have already arrived in Europe and will reach Ukraine via Poland in the coming weeks.

According to Western estimates, the Ukrainian Army has used an average of 90,000 shells each month, nearly double the combined production capacity of the United States and Europe. The need for munitions has sent the Pentagon “scrambling behind the scenes” to seek alternative sources, which it has found in both Israel and South Korea, the Times added.

Reached by the outlet, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder declined to “discuss the location or units providing the equipment or materiel,” citing “operational security.”

Israel, for its part, has refused to supply Kiev with weapons since Russia’s invasion last February, largely limiting its aid to humanitarian assistance despite repeated criticisms from Ukrainian officials. It is unclear, then, how Tel Aviv was persuaded to allow arms shipments from stockpiles on its own soil, with the Times noting Israeli officials had “initially expressed concerns about appearing complicit in arming Ukraine.” Washington reportedly agreed to replenish the shells as quickly as possible, and vowed to send replacements immediately in the event of a “severe emergency.”

Keeping friendly relations with both Moscow and Kiev, Israel has attempted to maintain a neutral stance toward the conflict raging in Eastern Europe, previously offering to help broker peace talks but resisting pressure to send military aid or follow a Western sanctions campaign targeting the Russian economy. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has scolded Tel Aviv for tepid support on several occasions, saying he was “shocked” at Israel’s reluctance to send weapons last September.

The Joe Biden administration has authorized some $25 billion in direct military aid to Kiev since last year, in addition to billions more under the separate ‘Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative’ and several rounds of financial and humanitarian aid. While the White House has so far resisted Ukrainian demands for certain heavy weapons – such as the M1 Abrams main battle tank – it has agreed to supply a long list of expensive gear, now including a Patriot missile defense battery, dozens of HIMARS multi-launch rocket platforms, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and countless howitzers. Military officials from the NATO alliance and allied countries are set to meet in Germany on Friday to discuss the possibility of heavier armaments for Ukraine, suggesting the flow of Western aid may only increase over the new year.

About Will Porter

Will Porter is assistant news editor at the Libertarian Institute and a staff writer at RT. Find more of his work at Antiwar.com and Consortium News.

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