Saturday, May 18, 2024

Zelensky calls on West to treat Ukraine like Israel

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the collective West to become involved in the conflict with Russia and protect Kiev similar to how it aided Israel during the Iranian missile and drone attacks over the weekend.

Zelensky issued the appeal in a Telegram post on Monday, showering praise on the “allied action” to help Israel during Iran’s strikes.

“It demonstrated how truly effective unity in defending against terror can be when it is based on sufficient political will. Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Jordan acted together and with maximum efficiency,” Zelensky asserted.

The president said that “no one was dragged into the war” due to the action against Iran, while noting that “Israel is not a NATO member, so no action, such as triggering Article 5, was required”. Zelensky then urged the collective West to provide Ukraine with the same level of support and protect it from Russian long-range strikes.

“European skies could have received the same level of protection long ago if Ukraine had received similar full support from its partners in intercepting drones and missiles,” he stated, pledging to raise the issue with the country’s backers.

Over the course of the conflict, Kiev has repeatedly urged Western nations to provide protection from Russian airstrikes one way or another, up to establishing a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine.

These ideas, however, have never come to fruition over fears that such moves would drag the West into an all-out war with Russia. Moscow has repeatedly warned that it would treat such attempts by any parties as a direct entrance into the conflict on Kiev’s side.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told journalists on Monday the US will not shoot down Russian drones and missiles fired at Ukraine, in contrast to how American forces protected Israel from the Iranian attack.

The US, the UK and France helped Israel repel a massive barrage launched by Iran in retaliation for an Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus earlier this month. Kirby was asked during a daily briefing whether the same tactics could be used in the Ukraine conflict.

“I knew this question was coming,” he responded.

“Look: different conflicts, different airspace, different threat picture. And [President Joe Biden] has been clear from the beginning [of the Ukraine hostilities] that the US is not going to be involved in that conflict in a combat role.”

Western powers have pledged to provide assistance to Kiev “for as long as it takes” to defeat Russia. However, they have repeatedly rejected the idea of directly engaging Russian forces. Even the French government, which has not ruled out deploying troops to Ukraine, made it clear that any hypothetical mission would be to relieve Ukrainian soldiers of non-combat duties, so that Kiev could send more of its own troops to the front line.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron was asked the same question as Kirby during an interview with LBC on Monday.

“Actually, putting NATO forces directly in conflict with Russian forces – I think that would be a dangerous escalation,” he said. Instead of “Western planes over [its] skies trying to shoot things down,” Ukraine instead requires air defense systems, Cameron suggested.

Moscow perceives the Ukraine conflict as a US-led proxy war on Russia, in which Ukrainians are being used as ‘cannon fodder’. It has warned that it will consider any military assets directly engaged in hostilities as legitimate targets, regardless of who operates them.

Statements from some Western officials appear to back up the Russian view of the situation. Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed last week that the US and its allies are getting “fantastic value” from the money spent on Ukraine, because “those guys without a single pair of American boots on the ground are fighting for the West.”

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