US and EU: The Real Reason Behind the Air Defense Gap Between Israel and Ukraine

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.17 - 2024 9:36 AM CET

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Borrell and Miller explained why Ukraine is not protected in the same way as Israel.

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Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, and Matthew Miller, the US State Department spokesperson, addressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's concerns about the disparity in air defense aid provided to Ukraine compared to Israel.

Borrell's Explanation on Air Defense Differences

During a press conference on April 16, Borrell responded to Zelensky's criticism following Iran's attack on Israel. He acknowledged the challenging situation in Ukraine but noted the differences compared to Israel.

"Israel is protected by the 'Iron Dome,' a highly sophisticated and costly system that took many years to develop. Even with sufficient funds, such a defense could not be constructed overnight," Borrell explained.

He also mentioned that the Iranian missiles targeted at Israel flew over US, French, and British military bases, prompting these nations to act in self-defense.

"Such military bases do not exist in Ukraine or in any area over which Russian missiles travel, hence the response cannot be the same due to differing circumstances," Borrell added.

The High Representative reassured that the EU is committed to enhancing Ukraine's air defense capabilities, with concrete commitments expected to be discussed at the upcoming defense ministers' meeting on April 22.

US State Department's Perspective

Echoing Borrell's sentiments, Matthew Miller emphasized at a briefing the unique and longstanding security partnership between the US and Israel.

"We have a decades-long security partnership with Israel, providing direct military assistance not just in the last two years but for decades. Our military relationship with Israel is extensive. Israel is a major non-NATO ally," Miller stated.

"Ukraine is in a different situation, as we did not have such an agreement with them before this conflict," he added.

Miller acknowledged the importance of avoiding a direct military conflict between the US and Russia, framing it as essential to preventing World War III.

He reassured that the US is deeply committed to Ukraine's defense by providing essential military aid, including advanced air defense systems like the Patriot.

He directed further inquiries about additional support to the US Congress, where a bill is pending that could enable more comprehensive military aid for Ukraine, including enhanced air defense resources.

"We hope this legislation passes soon," Miller concluded.

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