by: Kate Norman
Thursday, 19 January 2023 | The United States is drawing from a massive stockpile of ammunition in Israel to replenish Ukraine’s severely depleted inventory in its fight against the Russian invasion.
The US stockpiles arms and ammunition in Israel for the US military to use in case of conflict in the region, the New York Times reported, and has also allowed the Israeli military to draw from the stockpile in emergencies.
After Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine last February, the conflict has devolved into a war of attrition, with experts predicting that victory will boil down to whose ammunition holds out the longest. Ukraine’s stockpile reportedly has been depleted severely, forcing the besieged nation to rely on shells donated by Western allies.
Keeping Ukraine’s defenses locked and loaded has depleted Washington’s own stockpile and is outpacing the combined ammunition production speed of the US and Europe, as Ukrainian militias fire more than 90,000 artillery shells each month.
Washington therefore decided to dip into two stockpiles: one in Israel and the other in South Korea. The US and Jerusalem agreed to ship some 300,000 155-millimeter (6-inch) shells to Ukraine, the New York Times reported, citing US and Israeli officials, half of which have already been shipped, bound for Poland before final delivery to Ukraine.
To preserve its relations with Moscow, Israel has opted to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine rather than weapons. Israel must ensure that Russia, who maintains a strong presence in Syria and control over the Syrian skies, does not close Syrian airspace to Israeli jets, who regularly conduct air strikes against terrorist groups in the region.
Jerusalem reportedly feared that the US drawing from its stockpile in Israel would anger Russia, the New York Times reported, when the idea was first pitched last year. US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III discussed it with then-Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the Times reported, citing an Israeli official.
Gantz then reportedly put it to the Israeli cabinet for discussion. The cabinet approved the decision, which, the New York Times reported, was an effort to stay in good standing with Washington—and because the stockpile is property of the US military. The proposal was given final approval by then-Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
Israeli officials also told the New York Times that this does not signal a shift in Israeli policy on providing Ukraine with weapons but was merely giving Washington the thumbs up to use its own ammunition as it pleases.
A spokesperson for the Israeli military also told the New York Times: “Based on a US request, certain equipment was transferred to the US DOD [Department of Defense] from its stockpiles” in Israel.
Hours after the New York Times report was published, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) source told the Jerusalem Post that Washington will replenish what was taken out of its stockpile in Israel and that it would not affect Israel’s readiness for a regional conflict.
Washington’s stockpile in Israel reportedly goes back to the 1973 Yom Kippur War. After airlifting weapons to restock the Israeli forces, the US established a weapons supply in the Jewish state for use in emergency.
The stockpile, called the War Reserve Stocks for Allies-Israel (WRSA-I), is managed by US CENTCOM and includes storage in several locations in Israel which only American military personnel can access, the New York Times reported, citing a former US arms inspector.
Israel has drawn on the supply twice: the 2006 Second Lebanon War with the Hezbollah terror group and in the 2014 conflict with Hamas in Gaza, according to a Congressional Research Service report from last year.
Posted on January 19, 2023
Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 19, 2023)
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