US and Israel start large scale military exercise in Israel
U.S. Central Command and the IDF are taking part in a joint-military exercise known as ‘Juniper Oak,’ that is taking place in Israel and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. (Courtesy: IDF Spokesman’s Unit via CENTCOM.)
Russia on Wednesday took aim at Israel and warned it not to get involved in the war in Ukraine by providing arms to Kyiv, claiming such a move would “lead to an escalation of this crisis.”
“We say that all countries that supply weapons should understand that we will consider these to be legitimate targets for Russia’s armed forces,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said according to a report by The Times of Israel.
“Any attempts — implemented or even unrealized but announced for the supply of additional, new or some other weapons — lead and will lead to an escalation of this crisis,” she added. “And everyone should be aware of this.”
FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Kremlin on Jan. 30, 2020, in Moscow, Russia.
(Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
ISRAEL REJECTS US REQUEST FOR HAWK MISSILES IN AID TO UKRAINE
Zakharova’s comments came one day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was considering supplying Ukraine with more than just humanitarian aid – a move that would reverse Israel’s previous position on the war.
Netanyahu told CNN Tuesday that he was “looking into” providing Ukraine with “other kinds of aid” besides humanitarian help.
Israel has made no hard commitments to Ukraine when it comes to defensive aid largely because of the complex relationship it holds with Russia, though Moscow’s burgeoning relationship with Iran – which has provided Russia with drones for its war effort in Ukraine – could prompt Jerusalem to change its tune.
Netanyahu’s comments ran counter to a statement made last week by a spokesperson from the Israeli Ministry of Defense who told Fox News that Israel’s “policy of the security echelon has not changed.”
The spokesperson’s statement came after reports said Israel denied a U.S. request that it send Hawk missiles to Ukraine.
“Each request is examined on its merits. Beyond that, we do not refer to additional details,” the spokesman added.
Israeli anti-aircraft Hawk Missile Battery system
(David Rubinger/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
US TRANSFERS MILITARY WEAPONS STOCKPILE FROM ISRAEL TO UKRAINE
But the Netanyahu administration has set it sights on countering Iranian threats and Russia’s growing partnership with the Persian nation could mean Israel may finally decide to back Ukraine with arms.
Netanyahu also said he would not mind serving as a mediator if both Russia and Ukraine, along with the U.S., asked him to fill the role.
Russia’s warning Wednesday was not only directed at Israel.
France also received some finger waging after Zakharova condemned French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments this week when he said sending warplanes to Ukraine was not off the table.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday also accused NATO’s “entire military infrastructure” of “working against Russia.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends the ceremony at a Menorah memorial at the Babyn Yar National Historical and Memorial Reserve in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day, Jan. 27, 2023.
(Photo provided by the office of the President of Ukraine)
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“We see how NATO’s entire intelligence infrastructure, including reconnaissance aviation, and satellite groupings are working in the interests of Ukraine in a 24/7 mode,” he claimed according to Russian media outlet TASS.
Peskov said the dynamic creates a “very peculiar” and “hostile” environment for Russia.
Caitlin McFall is a Reporter at Fox News Digital covering Politics, U.S. and World news.