Russian President Vladimir Putin’s burgeoning military partnership with Iran could hasten the Middle Eastern regime’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“The result is not only lethal Iranian drones in Ukrainian skies but also something with which the Kremlin paid for it,” Zelensky said Friday in a virtual address to the Munich Security Conference. “Are you sure it’s just money? Or, maybe, the world will face the ‘enriched Iranian regime’? And to what extent — 90%, 92%, or 100%? I am sure none of us wants to let the region of Middle East and the Gulf taste it.”

Zelensky pointed to the possibility of Putin sending highly enriched uranium to Iran, which has provided weapons that Russian forces have used to bombard Ukraine’s energy infrastructure throughout the winter. The wordplay, more than a rhetorical trick, underscored his campaign to hasten the arrival of military aid from the United States and its democratic allies — perhaps especially Israel, which has declined to arm Ukraine throughout the war.

“I am grateful to everyone who gives the sling to Ukrainian David, thanks to which Russian Goliath has already started to lose his ground,” Zelensky said. “Being David is having a sling to win. We do not have yet the David’s sling from Israel. But I believe it is just temporarily/”

That prediction referred not only to the biblical story of David and Goliath but also to the long-range air defense system Israeli officials so far have declined to send to Ukraine. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen visited Ukraine this week on a trip that included a wreath-laying at Bucha, a Kyiv suburb where Russian forces allegedly massacred civilians during their failed attempt to seize the Ukrainian capital, and a stop at Babi Yar, the ravine where Nazi forces murdered 33,000 Jews over two days in 1941.

“I came to say: Israel stands by Ukraine and by the Ukrainian people in their difficult time,” Cohen said.

Yet he did not announce any lethal aid to Ukraine, offering instead loan guarantees and assistance in “developing a smart early warning system” for incoming Russian attacks. Those overtures stopped short of Ukrainian hopes, even as U.S. officials have warned about the potential for Russia to empower Iran’s military aspirations.

“It’s true that Iran is helping Russia kill Ukrainians,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Thursday. “But what concerns us is the potential for Russia to return the favor and to provide or assist or help Iran develop even more advanced capabilities, particularly military capabilities, that would only further destabilize the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cited Iran’s aid to Russia to make the case for U.S. and European powers to adopt a more confrontational approach to Tehran. But Israeli officials fear that the provision of military aid to Ukraine would lead to retaliation from Russia in Syria, where Putin and Iran have deployed forces to prop up Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Yet Iran’s armaments for Russia have created a link, Netanyahu implied, between Ukrainian security and Israel’s operations against Iran.

“We are attacking not only Iran’s nuclear program, trying to thwart it, but also taking action against certain weapons development that Iran has, and Iran invariably exports them,” Netanyahu said earlier this month.

Zelensky urged world leaders to accelerate their direct shipments of weapons to Ukraine. “We need speed,” he said, “speed of our agreements, speed of delivery to strengthen our sling, speed of decisions to limit Russian potential.”

Source » washingtonexaminer