The United States and some of its NATO allies plan to increase weapons-sharing and provide additional security guarantees to Ukraine. Polish President Andrzej Duda told the Wall Street Journal that Western leaders were supportive of developing ties with Kiev similar to the relationship Washington keeps with Tel Aviv.
Duda told the WSJ that President Joe Biden discussed the idea of bolstering the ties with Ukraine to resemble those with Israel when he visited Poland earlier this year. The Polish President claimed the Israel model was gaining momentum and would potentially be an agenda item at the upcoming NATO summit in July.
An unnamed White House official confirmed to the WSJ that “an Israeli model emerged as a way to address the core of Ukraine’s security issues, recognizing that it wouldn’t achieve NATO membership soon.” However, the official continued any agreement would be “based loosely on Israel’s security model” and “the contours of Ukraine’s defense agreement remain fluid.” Both Duda and the American official noted discussions were still ongoing.
Some members of NATO have privately grown frustrated with each other over what pledges will be made to Kiev during the forthcoming NATO summit in Vilnius. Poland and the Baltic States have been lobbying the bloc to provide Ukraine with a concrete path to membership. Washington and some Western European nations are only willing to provide Kiev with vague promises of future membership.
The Polish leader presented the Israel model as a compromise position. “Russia needs to understand today that Ukraine has got those security guarantees and that they’re not going to lapse with time or with fatigue of the West,” said Duda. He added, “It’s quite understandable that Ukraine cannot become a member of NATO when there is war on Ukrainian territory.”
Further upgrading Kiev’s military risks provoking a severe Russian response. After Western leaders announced it would begin a program that would see F-16s transferred to Ukraine, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said, “We see that Western countries are still adhering to the escalation scenario. It involves colossal risks for themselves.”
How the Kremlin will respond to NATO’s increasingly close ties with Kiev is unclear. The White House may view following the Israel model as avoiding the Russian red line of admitting Ukraine as a full member within the alliance. However, America’s elected leaders proclaim Tel Aviv to be Washington’s most vital ally, and Biden has described the relationship with Israel as “bone deep.”
Additionally, human rights groups have labeled Israel an apartheid state. Tel Aviv collects billions in military aid from Washington every year, then uses its armed forces to oppress the Palestinians.
Kiev has its own substantial issues with human rights. Ukraine has adopted a series of language laws meant to suppress the large percentage of Ukrainians who are Russian speakers. Since the Russian invasion last year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has nationalized the media, outlawed his political opposition, and waged a campaign to cleanse Ukraine of all historical vestiges of Russian culture.