Zelenskyy to US: Iran’s attack on Israel is ‘wake-up call’ to fortify America’s allies

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Ukrainian leader draws a parallel between Tehran’s tactics in Israel and those employed by Russia against Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Iran’s attack on Israel Saturday night is a “wake-up call” for Washington to get moving on supporting American allies.

“It is critical that the United States Congress make the necessary decisions to strengthen America’s allies at this critical time,” Zelenskyy said in the wake of Tehran’s barrage of missiles and drones on Israel overnight — ​​a reference to the recent slowdown of Western military aid and the knock-on effects it could have on global security. 

“Ukraine condemns Iran’s attack on Israel using ‘Shahed’ drones and missiles,” Zelenskyy wrote on X, drawing a parallel between Tehran’s tactics and those employed by Moscow against Ukraine.

Exhorting international leaders to take “every effort” to “prevent a further escalation” of the fighting in the Middle East, the Ukrainian leader argued that “Iran’s actions threaten the entire region and the world, just as Russia’s actions threaten a larger conflict.” 

And then he brought his point home: “Words do not stop drones and do not intercept missiles. Only tangible assistance does.”

Volodymyr Omelyan, Ukraine’s former infrastructure minister, targeted a similar message at U.S. Republicans, and in particular Donald Trump, the former U.S. president and frontrunner for the Republican nomination this year. Trump has championed the idea that the only way to stop the war in Ukraine is if Kyiv gives up territory — a scenario described as a “primitive idea” by Zelenskyy.

“I hope that Iran’s attack on Israel will send a powerful message to Republicans, namely to Mr. Trump — you cannot wait aside any more and think that those are small separate regional conflicts happening somewhere in Europe, Middle East, Asia,” Omelyan said in an interview with POLITICO. “China, Russia, Iran and North Korea persistently attack the West,” he said.

“You cannot negotiate with people who want to rob and kill you — and the time to educate them is over. Therefore, I hope that next week Congress will finally approve U.S. aid to Israel and Ukraine,” Omelyan said.

He was referring to a major American aid package that has been held up by partisan bickering in the U.S. Congress, as Western support for Ukraine in general has lost momentum in recent months. On Saturday, Germany finally agreed to send a Patriot air-defense system to Kyiv to help shield Ukraine from the Russian ballistic missiles. But Berlin hasn’t relented on its refusal to provide Taurus cruise missiles. 

Over the past month, Kyiv’s government has urged the U.S. and other Western partners to send more air defenses to Ukraine as Russia bombards the country with missiles and drones. If the conflict in the Middle East escalates, some observers believe it will hurt the backing for Kyiv’s war efforts.

A wider conflict “could severely impact Ukraine’s interests,” Maksym Skrypchenko, president of the Ukrainian Transatlantic Dialogue Center think tank, told POLITICO in an interview. “If resources are diverted to Israel, less remains for Ukraine …  any conflict that consumes resources needed by Ukraine negatively affects us,” he said.

He specifically noted air-defense systems, as well as artillery shells and other military supplies. On the other hand, Skrypchenko added, Iran’s attack on Israel could “bolster” U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson’s efforts to convince more Republicans to pass a stalled national security supplemental bill, which would provide military assistance to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

“The standalone aid package for Israel was previously unsuccessful, so coupling it with aid for Ukraine might be the only viable approach,” Skrypchenko said. “The justification is compelling: Israel faced attacks with the same weaponry that Iran supplies to Russia.”

Since the Iranian attack, Johnson himself has emphasized his support for passing the package.

“House Republicans and the Republican Party understand the necessity of standing with Israel,” Johnson told Fox News on Sunday. “We’re going to try again this week, and the details of that package are being put together right now. We’re looking at the options on all these supplemental issues.”

Western reluctance to supply funding and weapons comes at a time when Moscow’s forces are making advances on the battlefield and Russian President Vladimir Putin, fresh from a distorted election victory, is leaping on every opportunity to intensify the Kremlin’s assault.

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