(ORDO NEWS) — Israel has been widely criticized for its reluctance to supply weapons to Ukraine. Ultimately, however, it could be one of the countries that stand to gain the most from the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. Why armed conflict is good for business, writes The Jerusalem Post.
Armed conflict may be hell, but it is clearly good for business. Less obvious is how Israel’s cold, pragmatic approach could affect its already tarnished reputation in the world.
Israel has been widely criticized for its reluctance to supply weapons to Ukraine, but it could end up being one of the countries that stand to gain the most from Ukraine’s armed conflict with Russia.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a clumsy attempt to mediate a decision that was rejected by both sides. President Vladimir Putin rejected it, with an unnamed senior Ukrainian official allegedly saying that Bennett advised President Volodymyr Zelensky to accept Putin’s demands for a cessation of hostilities. He denied it.
The Israeli public may be siding with Ukraine by a three-to-one margin and even sending in donations and volunteers, but Bennett appears unmoved.
His government sent a field medical hospital to Ukraine for several weeks, supplied helmets and body armor and shared some intelligence, but turned down requests for help in the form of lethal weapons. Ukraine’s request to send it the Iron Dome missile defense system (“Iron Dome”) was rejected. Israel even banned the United States from sending the batteries it bought from it.
The Iron Dome may not be the right weapon for this conflict, but there has been no clear attempt to provide better alternatives to bolster Ukraine’s defenses. Israel has plenty of such systems and sells them around the world to autocrats and democrats alike. So why not sell them to a fledgling democracy under the influence of a brutal dictator?
The main reason is fear. For example, the fear that Moscow will close Israel’s access to Syrian airspace, which is controlled by the Russian Air Force. Israel has virtually free rein to strike Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah targets it deems a threat, as long as Russian forces are not harmed. Last week, Israeli fighter jets were hit by S-300 missiles after an attack in northwestern Syria. These air defense systems are operated by the Russian military, and their first-ever use has led to speculation that they could signal a possible change in Moscow’s policy.
A significant part of Moscow’s military machine has been destroyed, and what remains of it is scattered across the expanses of Ukraine. Hundreds of tanks destroyed. Thousands of soldiers have died, resulting in what Zelenskiy called a “mountain of corpses.” The once vaunted Russian army has suffered perhaps its worst defeat in a century, regardless of the outcome of this conflict.
It costs Russia dearly in many respects. The country’s international reputation has been shaken, as has its economy. Its leader is called a war criminal. Her army is humiliated. His defense industry has been brought to the point where computer chips for installation in tanks and other weapons systems are extracted from household appliances.
This war demonstrated poor training, poor management, low morale and insufficient command skills in the Russian army. Soldiers complain about poor, outdated equipment, unusable rations, lack of medicines, and even inadequate uniforms and helmets.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia is the world’s second largest arms exporter, accounting for 19% of global arms sales, well behind the United States (39%). This may very well change. Military-industrial complex enterprises will have to switch to domestic production to recover huge losses, but this will be difficult due to the cessation of supplies of components imported from abroad, especially electronics.
After the end of this armed conflict, both for political and practical reasons, the number of buyers of Russian products that have shown unfortunate shortcomings will decrease. China will try to take second place in the world, but a significant part of its weapons are fakes of Russian technology.
One of the types of military equipment produced by China, apparently copied from Israel. Many believe that the Chinese J-10 fighter is based on the Israeli Lavi aircraft, the production project of which Israel closed after the completion of the prototype stage. J-10 fighter jets were reportedly sold to Pakistan. Israel tried to sell China an AWACS-type reconnaissance aircraft, but the sale was canceled under US pressure because Washington feared Beijing might use it to attack Taiwan.
What is bad in the Russian defense industry is playing into the hands of competitors, including Israel, China, France, Germany and South Korea, who will seek to fill the gap not only in quantity but, as events in Ukraine have shown, in quality.
Israeli military-industrial complex
The Israeli military-industrial complex is distinguished by a high level of development and is recognized throughout the world. He won his military reputation mainly by decisively defeating his enemies, who were armed and trained by the Soviet Union. Its air force is one of the most powerful and advanced in the world, while the country is a world leader in the development of UAVs and was even before the United States flew its first drone.
After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel had a large surplus of defense weapons and a significant number of captured Soviet-made Egyptian and Syrian tanks and other systems that it was able to recover and sell abroad. It also allowed him to trade military equipment with countries with which he had no previous relationship. In the early 1980s, during the war with Iraq, Israel sold spare parts for its American-made tanks and aircraft even to Iran.
The motto of a successful advertising campaign for Israeli weapons was the phrase “Tested in battle.”
The long list of buyers of Israeli weapons includes countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Jerusalem. The sale of fighter jets, UAVs, missiles, mortars, military equipment, patrol boats, rifles, ammunition and surveillance equipment opened the door to commercial and diplomatic relations and strengthened other ties.
The US may be Israel’s main supplier of weapons and technology, but it also buys some types of missiles and anti-missile systems from Israel.
Today, Israel ranks 10th in arms sales in the world. India is its top buyer, followed by Azerbaijan, Vietnam and China, according to the Times of Israel online publication. According to the Observer Research Foundation, Jerusalem’s arms sale to Delhi is “the backbone of the strategic partnership.”
Vietnam is currently one of the world’s largest buyers of Israeli weapons and military equipment. It is buying arms and surveillance equipment and is counting on Israel to help replace its Cold War-era Soviet and Chinese weapons. Hanoi is turning to Jerusalem as it lacks technical expertise and manufacturing infrastructure.
Israel uses arms sales as a foreign policy tool and a way to establish diplomatic relations. In the 1980s, Sri Lanka approached Washington for assistance in gaining Israeli experience in combating terrorism, and was told that it should go directly to Jerusalem. The authorities of the republic did just that. Today, its air force includes 17 Israeli-made Kfir combat aircraft, and its pilots are trained in Israel.
Israel is also a leader in anti-missile technology. Germany and Finland are among the countries that are reportedly considering buying Israeli missile defense systems. In addition, markets are opening up among Arab countries that were once considered enemies.
So, Israel is exploring the possibility of obtaining additional benefits in the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine. According to The Jerusalem Post, Israel, Egypt and the European Union are negotiating the export of Israeli natural gas to Europe to help fill the shortage associated with the restriction of supplies from Russia and sanctions.
Armed conflict may be hell, but it is clearly good for business. Less obvious is how Israel’s cold pragmatic approach could affect its already tarnished reputation in the world now that Western democracies are actively helping Ukraine in its bitter struggle to maintain its independence.
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