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Ukraine, which watches the American coalition protect Israel, feels alone

Ukraine, which watches the American coalition protect Israel, feels alone


kyiv When Iran launched hundreds of deadly missiles and drones at Israel this weekend, the Israelis relied on a crucial tool that Ukraine still does not have: immediate and direct assistance from the United States and other partners with military assets in the region.

For more than two years, Ukraine has faced Russian missile and drone attacks, often including Iranian-made Shahed drones like those used by Tehran on Saturday. As a shield, Ukraine relies on a hodgepodge of air defense systems supplied by Western partners, including three Patriot batteries designed by the United States and flown by Ukrainian troops. This month, the largest power plant serving kyiv was destroyed. Civilian casualties are frequent.

By contrast, as weapons launched from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen advanced toward their targets in Israel over the weekend, U.S. forces prepared to respond with fighter jets, a Patriot battery in Iraq and American destroyers. Britain, France and Jordan also helped. With the Israeli Iron Dome air defense system, they destroyed 99 percent of the approximately 300 missiles and drones, avoiding major damage.

The divergence of responses was not lost on observers in Ukraine.

Last week alone, Russia launched nearly 130 Shahed drones, 80 missiles and 700 guided aerial bombs on Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly speech on Sunday. Ukraine depended on its own troops and dwindling ammunition reserves. But the immediate international response to the Iranian attack on Israel proved that modern air defense can save lives and that such defense is possible, Zelensky said.

The whole world saw that Israel was not alone in this defense and that the threat in the sky was also eliminated by its allies, Zelensky said. And when Ukraine says its allies should not turn a blind eye to Russian missiles and drones, it means acting boldly.

It is not rhetoric that protects the skies, it is not opinions that slow down the production of missiles and drones for terrorist purposes, he added.

But with a $60 billion aid package blocked in Congress, Ukraine is urgently lacking munitions and other supplies needed to maintain its own defense against airstrikes.

Like Zelensky, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba spoke of the direct aid provided by partners to Israel. Even if you can't act like you do in Israel, give us what we need and we will do the rest of the work, Kuleba said.

Fearing that direct conflict with Russia could escalate into nuclear war, the United States and other NATO countries have repeatedly rejected the idea of ​​direct troop involvement in Ukraine. When French President Emmanuel Macron recently said that sending troops should not be ruled out, other Western leaders were quick to denounce the suggestion, calling it dangerous.

Ukrainian officials say they need 26 Patriot systems, each costing more than $1 billion, to cover the entire country.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron told British radio LBC that partners must support Ukraine financially, diplomatically and with arms deliveries to defend itself, in addition to troop training.

Engaging NATO forces directly in a conflict with Russian forces, I think would be a dangerous escalation, he said.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said President Biden has made it clear that the United States will not take on a combat role in Ukraine.

Different conflicts, different airspaces, different threat situations, Kirby said.

Kuleba has recently intensified his pressure on Ukrainian supporters in an attempt to secure them. So far, only Germany has agreed, announcing on Saturday that it would send a Patriot to Ukraine.

Some Ukrainians expressed hope that the largely foiled attack on Israel would prompt action on Capitol Hill, where aid to Ukraine could be linked to additional support for Israel.

And Ukrainian officials aren't the only ones making comparisons to the Middle East.

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, on X, formerly Twitter, praised Israel for repelling the attack. It would now be useful to strengthen Israeli missile defense and equip Ukraine with similar systems, writes Sikorski. The easiest way is to unblock the aid program to Ukraine and Israel.

In a new report released Monday, the Institute for the Study of War noted that Israel's successful defense against the Iranian attack underscores vulnerabilities that Ukraine's geography and continued degradation of the country's air defense umbrella Ukraine poses Ukrainian defense efforts against regular Russian missile and drone strikes. .

Ukraine's geographic proximity to Russia also poses a challenge, with missiles and drones often traveling only short distances to reach their targets, leaving Ukraine with only minutes to respond. By comparison, Israel and its partners had several hours to prepare for the weekend strikes, according to the ISW report.

In Ukraine, others described the disadvantage more directly.

The famous Ukrainian novelist Oksana Zabuzhko wrote on Facebook that Israel faces an adversary before whom the West does not allow itself to fall into a position of canine humility. In Jordan, she pointed out, Israel also had a neighbor who helped stop the strikes.

We don't have any of that, she wrote. (In February 2022, Ukraine's neighbor Belarus allowed Russian troops to cross its territory.)

Ukrainian MP Andrii Osadchuk wrote on Facebook that if suddenly the air forces of NATO countries wanted to more effectively shoot down Iranian drones in Israeli skies, they could train in Ukraine for free.

Others said Israel's multinational defense showed Ukraine was isolated.

What conclusion should Ukraine draw? We can only count on ourselves, Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Goncharenko wrote on Telegram. Iran said the attack on Israel was an act of self-defense, he wrote. Have we heard this before? he wrote, referring to Russia's excuses for invading Ukraine.

Russia has also responded to Iranian strikes by calling for restraint.

The situation in the Middle East has become extremely tense and the conflict risks escalating into a regional confrontation, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said at a Security Council meeting on Monday . The spiral of confrontation and bloodshed must end.

Speaking about the Iranian strikes on Sunday morning, Nebenzya reminded the audience of the strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, which preceded the Iranian attack on Israel. Nebenzya criticized some Security Council members for their reluctance to clearly condemn the Israeli airstrike in the Syrian capital.

The parade of hypocrisy and double standards unfolding today in the Security Council is so crude, he said, referring to Western willingness to criticize Iran but not Israel.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, said Israel's successful defense showed the need for a mandatory and muscular response to such attacks.

“Answer or die!” ” should be the unequivocal rule against those who seek to destroy global stability, Podolyak posted on X.

Natalia Abbakumova in Riga, Latvia, contributed to this report.




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