Israeli Self-Reliance as a Model for Ukraine

February 2, 2022 | David Patrikarakos
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Through visits to Ukraine and conversations with friends both in Kyiv and in Russian-occupied parts of the country, the British journalist David Patrikarakos came to learn that many Ukrainians feel a kinship with Israelis who, “despite supportive talk from allies, would always have to fight alone.”

Once again, Ukraine is menaced by Russia, which recently stuck a decent chunk of its army on the border. And not just men and guns: all the supporting infrastructure for an invasion is being deployed.

Once again, the supportive talk flows. In fact, the UK and U.S. have been almost unprecedentedly forceful. . . . Last Thursday, President Joe Biden had a call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky during which Biden told him that a Russian invasion could happen as soon as February, when the ground in the east freezes over and Russian track vehicles can move. Biden apparently got so worked up that Zelensky had to ask him to “calm down the messaging.”

But while Biden may get emotional down the phone, he won’t send Americans to fight Russians on behalf of Ukrainians. . . . Kyiv is not in NATO, and it has no allies it can call upon here. It’s on its own.

During the 1948 War of Independence, the Israelis desperately needed arms; the world said no (and indeed doled out lectures on international law). So they went out and illegally bought a load of Czech arms. They refused to take lectures when facing the literal extinction of the nascent Jewish state. I’m not saying Ukraine should start scouting the black market, but the broader principle should be internalized.

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