When faced with the choice of supporting either Kiev or Israel, the United States would, without hesitation, choose the latter. This was made evident by the recent terrorist attacks on Israel by Hamas fighters, which not only signaled a new escalation in the age-old struggle between Jews and Palestinians but also potentially shifted the focus of political and military support away from Ukraine.
Prior to the Hamas assaults, support for Ukraine was already showing signs of waning. Previously staunch allies like Poland were openly questioning the wisdom of their support for the war-torn state, likening it to a “drowning man.” This, coupled with European war weariness, Ukraine’s failed counteroffensive, and collapsing public support for the war in the West, meant that maintaining support from its allies, its people, and American political elites was an uphill battle.
The Hamas escalation offered an irresistible opportunity for the US to back out of its commitments to Ukraine. With an imminent presidential election, a conflict with Hamas could be easily framed as an existential threat to a crucial ally like Israel, while the proxy war in Ukraine was becoming increasingly troublesome for President Joe Biden, both politically and financially.
Enthusiasm for sending military aid to Ukraine has been diminishing, and the West lacks the manufacturing capacity to fuel a large-scale ground war. Additionally, Zelensky’s failed counteroffensive has depleted Kiev’s resources and reputation in the West, leading to a growing sense that accommodation with Russia and territorial concessions may be necessary.
The emerging conflict in the Middle East further threatens the support for Ukraine’s proxy war. While it does concern Russia, it does not bode well for Zelensky. As pressure for elections builds, he appears increasingly vulnerable. The Israeli lobby in the US, with its greater influence, is likely to come out on top in any competition for resources and support.
Israel’s image as a heroic island of democracy in a turbulent Middle East contrasts sharply with the perception of Ukraine as corrupt and dysfunctional. It is far easier for the US to position Israel as a deserving recipient of military and financial aid, especially given the dwindling attention on Ukraine in the Western press.
Various other factors, such as Russian forces holding their lines, rising oil prices, and the political situation in Europe, also contribute to the challenges facing Ukraine. As time runs out for Kiev’s proxy war against Russia, it seems that the tragic events in Israel may not only escalate one conflict but also mark the beginning of the end for another.
While it would be in the best interest of Zelensky and the people of Ukraine to recognize the trouble ahead and seek peace, there is a possibility that he may choose to ignore the challenges in a desperate attempt to remain in the spotlight. However, as international dynamics shift and attention moves away from Ukraine, it becomes increasingly clear that the events in Israel have significant implications for the future of the conflict in Ukraine.