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Borrell says protection of Israeli, Ukrainian airspace 'cannot be compared'

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 17, 2024 9:10 AM 3 min read
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell gestures during a press conference on April 8, 2024. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images)
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The question of why Western countries cannot defend Ukraine's airspace in the same way they did for Israel is "well-founded," but the two situations "cannot be compared," Josep Borrel, the EU's top diplomat, said on April 16.

Iran carried out a massive aerial attack on Israel on April 14 and launched 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles, and 120 ballistic missiles, the vast majority of which were downed by Israel and its allies before they even reached Israeli territory.

In Ukraine, meanwhile, Russia has been intensifying its aerial attacks on Ukrainian cities and civilians this spring, highlighting growing shortages in Ukraine's air defense systems.

"Terror must be defeated completely and everywhere, not more in some places and less in others," Zelensky said in his evening address on April 15.

Israel's Iron Dome plays a crucial role in protecting its airspace, but this "has taken years and years to build and has a very high cost," Borrell told the press after a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels.

"Even if we had the money in the box, it couldn't be built in one night."

Borrell also said that some of Iran's missiles and drones flew over air bases of the armies of France, the U.S., the U.K., and Jordan, prompting these countries to act "in self-defense."

"There are no air bases of the United Kingdom or the United States, much less Jordan of course, on Ukrainian territory or in a territory which Russian missiles fly over."

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"Therefore, the same answer cannot be given because the circumstances are not the same. But having said that: of course, the delivery of air defense to Ukraine must be accelerated and strengthened," Borrell said.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller echoed this sentiment at a press conference on April 16, telling the press that "Ukraine is just in a different position."

"We are not in armed military conflict with Russia, which is what it would require for U.S. planes to be in the skies over Ukraine engaging with Russian attacks. And we are not going to be in direct armed conflict with Russia," Miller said.

In a similar vein, U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on April 15 that deploying Western fighter jets to protect Ukraine from missile strikes would lead to "dangerous escalation."

When asked why the West cannot give Ukraine more direct help in shooting down drones, Cameron responded that "what Ukraine needs right now is not Western planes over their skies."

"What they desperately want and what we need to give them is more air defense systems," which are "more effective," Cameron said.

Ukraine war latest: Russia destroyed Kyiv Oblast power plant after Ukraine ran out of air defense missiles, Zelensky says
Key developments on April 16: * Zelensky: Russia destroyed key power plant near Kyiv since Ukraine ‘ran out of missiles’ for its defense * Source: Ukraine strikes Russian modernized long-range radar system in Bryansk Oblast * Bloomberg: Russia does not have capability to launch offensive on Khar…
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