Thursday 05 October 2023

Israel makes capital out of Russia-Ukraine crisis, boasts arms sales to Europe

Israel’s aerospace and aviation manufacturer, bragging rapid growth in arms trade in the wake of the Ukraine conflict, is putting in efforts on the European market, cashing in on the conflict in the region.

The crisis in Ukraine is reshaping Europe’s military spending. European countries have begun boosting their military budgets leading to an increase in demand for weapons.


Western countries have responded to the Russian military operation by backing Ukraine with cash and heavy weaponry while imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russian officials and entities.


In recent months, they have supplied Ukraine with artillery, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank weapons, and other powerful warfare, with President Volodymyr Zelensky calling for more.


According to a study published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), while arms exports declined globally by 4.6 percent in 2017-2021 compared to the preceding five years, Europe posted a 19-percent increase, seeing the world's biggest rise in arms imports.


The current war-ridden region seems to favor Israel’s Aerospace Industries (IAI), which is carving out a niche for its military sales in countries neighboring Russia, mainly Germany.


Israeli paper Haaretz cited Amir Peretz, the chairman of IAI and former minister of military affairs, as saying that the entity is seeking to penetrate the European market, increasing its presence in the countries neighboring Russia by acquiring other firms and building new marketing platforms.


The report said the Israeli arms industry has directed its focus on Germany, which is expected to add 100 billion euros to its military budget. It is also competing to sell missile systems to Finland.


Boaz Levy, the CEO of IAI, said he hoped the Germans would soon agree to the purchase of the Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile interceptor system, a deal that according to foreign sources is estimated to be worth 2 billion euros. IAI is also competing to sell its Barak 8 missile defense system to Finland.


US and European leaders have said they are settling for a long-term war in Ukraine, which they hope would bear down on Russia and weaken it.


Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin announced that some 20 countries offered new military assistance packages for Ukraine to battle Russian forces in a meeting of allies on Monday.


He said that Denmark committed to send Ukraine Harpoon anti-ship missile systems, and the Czech Republic was offering attack helicopters, tanks and rocket systems.


But Austin would not provide details of what is included in a new $40 billion US assistance package for Ukraine, amid speculation that it could include high-precision, long-distance rockets that could be used to hit Russian territory.


The Biden administration is also working to deliver anti-ship missiles to Ukrainian fighters to help break Russia's naval power.


While the devastating toll the conflict is taking on the global economy is most disconcerting, the UK, the US, France, and Germany are discussing whether to sign a security guarantee for Ukraine to continue providing weaponry and support in the long run.


That is apparently good news to Peretz who also said his arm-producing firm is stepping up its sales to the Arab countries that have signed normalization agreements with Israel.


According to Israeli reports, Morocco agreed in February to purchase a missile defense system from the Israeli armament manufacturer for about $600 million.


Last March the company also announced plans to jointly develop an advanced anti-drone missile system with the United Arab Emirates' state-owned weapons maker.


As a result of these dealings, it amassed a total of $14 billion worth of orders yet to be fulfilled in the last quarter – the equivalent to three years of business.


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