Israel Blocks Sale of Iron Dome Missile Defense System to Ukraine

In order to maintain its neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Israel has refused to sell the Iron Dome air defense system to Kyiv. The Ukrainian government officially requested last spring that the US deploy its MIM-104 Patriot anti-ballistic missile system, as well as the Iron Dome, on its territory.

Iron Dome was developed jointly by the US and Israel, and an agreement between Washington and Jerusalem requires their mutual consent before the technology can be sold to a third party. Due to Russia’s deep involvement in Syria, particularly near the Israeli border, Jerusalem walks a tightrope in its relations with Moscow. Israeli leaders have succeeded in maintaining good working relations and open channels of communication with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and don’t wish to jeopardize this by openly taking Ukraine’s side in the conflict.

At the same time, if Israel appears too pro-Russian, it risks upsetting allies in the US, Europe, and Ukraine, itself. According to reports in the Israeli press, Jerusalem believes that the Biden administration understands Israel’s predicament and its need to tread lightly. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, in an interview with the Israeli public broadcaster Kan earlier this month, confirmed that Kyiv sought to acquire Iron Dome, as well as a Patriot missile battery.

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