What Israel Can Learn from the War in Ukraine

March 9 2023

During the past year of fighting, both Moscow and Kyiv have made extensive use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), often deploying them in new ways that amount to significant changes in the nature of warfare. Russia has recently begun importing Iranian drones—including loitering munitions or “suicide drones”—which the Islamic Republic also supplies to its proxy armies around the Middle East. Liran Antebi and Amikam Norkin explain the implications for the IDF:

For Israel, this is a unique opportunity: with Iran considered its greatest threat, Tehran’s involvement in a conflict in Europe allows an in-depth examination of one aspect of Iranian capabilities and weaknesses. [The suicide drones] are relatively primitive, . . . low cost, and simple to operate; some were even downgraded [in order] to allow their export from Iran disassembled, with assembly on the ground. Despite the low level of accuracy of these UAVs in comparison to their Western counterparts, for the Russians they are an adequate solution to their need to erode Ukraine’s resilience by damaging electrical and water infrastructure, as well as inflicting intentional injury and death on civilians.

From Israel’s perspective, Ukraine offers a demonstration of the limited technological capabilities of exported Iranian weapons on the one hand, and implications for the battlefield on the other, including the ability to damage civilian infrastructure, military forces, and civilians.

The fighting in Ukraine also shows how non-Western powers tend to use unmanned weapons—in a total inversion of how Western democracies use similar technologies, largely with the intention of minimizing damage and harm to civilians by means of improving the accuracy of their systems. The way that Russia uses these technologies does not respect international law in particular or human life in general, as proven by the deadly and indiscriminate attacks on the Ukrainian home front. While the weapons have not scored strategic gains, the future of hundreds of such UAVs in combination with heavy barrages of rockets in the early days of fighting are liable to pose difficult problems for the Israeli defense systems.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: IDF, Iran, War in Ukraine


The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship