Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz emphasized on Tuesday that Israel will not sell weapons to Ukraine, just hours after Kyiv’s foreign minister announced that his government would formally ask Jerusalem to supply it with arms.

“I want to make it clear that we did not sell weapons to Ukraine,” said Gantz in an interview with the Kol Chai radio station, adding: “If Nachman Shai claims that we have sold or will sell [weapons to Kyiv], he is wrong. I am the minister of defense and I am responsible for the export of arms.”

Gantz was referring to Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister, Nachman Shai, who on Monday tweeted: “This morning it was reported that Iran is transferring ballistic missiles to Russia. There is no longer any doubt where Israel should stand in this bloody conflict. The time has come for Ukraine to receive military aid as well, just as the USA and NATO countries provide.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kulebay told a news conference on Tuesday that his country would formally ask Israel to supply it with air defense systems, amid ongoing Russian aerial bombardments and revelations that Tehran is providing Moscow with suicide drones.

Israel has shied away from arming Ukraine over fears of upsetting Russia, the leading player in Syria, where the Israeli military has in recent years conducted hundreds of strikes aimed at curbing Iran’s military entrenchment and the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah there and in Lebanon.

On Monday, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president and current deputy chairman of its Security Council, said that “Israel appears to be getting ready to supply weapons to the Kyiv regime,” a prospect he called “very reckless.” Israel would completely destroy relations with Moscow by sending weapons to Ukraine, he added.

Speaking with MSNBC on Tuesday, however, Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu described Israel’s position on Ukraine as “prudent.”

“On the question of weapons there’s always a possibility—and this has happened time and again—that weapons we supplied in one battlefield end up in Iranian hands used against us,” said Netanyahu, adding that Tehran-backed fighters in the Syrian Golan Heights had used Israeli-made arms to target the Jewish state.

As such, Netanyahu said the current coalition’s “circumspect” position of not shipping weapons to Ukraine was “important.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian ambassador to Israel Yevgen Kornichuk on Tuesday said that the cancellation by Gantz’s office in August of a scheduled call with the Israeli defense minister’s Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov was “deeply disappointing.”

“They did not provide an explanation for the cancelation,” Kornichuk told Maariv in an interview, adding,”Going forward, I don’t think our defense minister will be in contact with Gantz.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid is slated to speak with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kulebay on Thursday, according to Israeli media reports.


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