Yshai Amichai
Yshai AmichaiCourtesy

Western media depict Ukraine as the victim of a savage attack, with Russia specifically targeting helpless civilians and children. I do not think it is wise to accept this narrative. Accepting such a narrative could only make things worse for everyone.

Ukraine is arming civilians and training them to shoot at Russian soldiers. They are fighting in urban areas, firing from residential buildings, and possibly from more sensitive locations, such as nurseries, schools, and hospitals. Russian soldiers will obviously shoot back at them. Civilians will inevitably die.

Why is it important to say this?

If we accept the Western narrative, it will only come back to bite us. Israel has been combating similar narratives for decades, trying to defend itself against foreign accusations. We are called an army of occupation and our soldiers are accused of committing war crimes.

-Hamas hides behind civilians and shoots at us. We fire back and are called murderers.

-Hamas operates out of residential buildings, or in buildings shared by the foreign press. We level them and receive bad press.

-Hamas fires rockets from schools and hospitals. We fire back and the world backs them in their struggle against us.

Israel has a moral army, as far as armies go. I would not compare us to the Russians, but we do find ourselves in a similar position. Israel also has a greater incentive to please the world. We cannot afford to dig in deep like the Russians. Our military conflicts often end quickly with us pulling out, unwilling to finish the job in the face of stiff foreign opposition. Russia is different.

New Sanctions Regime

Israel’s hands are tied because it fears foreign sanctions. Russia’s hands are not. Russia did not expect to be hit with such brutal sanctions, but it is big enough to absorb them. Russia can afford to let this conflict drag on until Ukraine is choked into submission. Israel cannot afford to do the same in Gaza or anywhere else.

And the new sanctions regime now hitting Russia, should only be a warning to Israel and others. World leaders are trigger-happy these days, after multiple coronavirus lockdowns. They are used to closing borders and shutting down economies, isolating their own citizens. Sanctioning other nations is even easier for them.

If we accept the story that Russia is evil for attacking Ukraine, and that it deserves to be cut off from the world and ostracized, we accept that the same can be done to us in the future. Next time the world disapproves of Israeli military actions to defend itself, the sanctions used against Russia could be used against us.

Failed Scare Tactics

The sanctions used against Russia are scare tactics, aimed at pushing Russia into submission, but they can achieve the opposite effect. It is more likely that these sanctions will push Russia further away from the West and make things worse for everyone.

If you consider that Russia has tried similar scare tactics and failed, you might understand the grave risks of such actions. I would even argue that the whole conflict is a result of failed scare tactics, and further failures could only further compound the problem.

Ukraine shifted sharply to the West, turning its back on Russia. Russia hoped to scare Ukraine back into submission, but it failed. It amassed its armies on Ukraine’s borders for months, hoping to scare the Ukrainians. The opposite happened, with Ukraine only strengthening its resolve.

Having failed to scare the Ukrainians from a distance, Russia was forced to up the ante. It sent its troops into Ukraine in long convoys, stretching back for many miles. This was not a tactical decision. It was another scare tactic, and it failed.

Tanks and personnel carriers do not need to line up on the roads where they are easy targets. Military vehicles were designed to travel offroad. They may be a lot scarier when seen in long convoys that stretch beyond the horizon, but they are less effective in battle this way.

Russia’s use of scare tactics, even at the expense of tactical advantages, suggests that Russia was not looking to occupy cities and fight against resisting civilians, at least not initially. It was hoping to scare Ukraine into submission from a distance, but it failed. Now it is forced to change its tactics and kill civilians.

I do not think that Russia is beyond this. Regrettably, it will besiege the Ukrainian cities and choke them into submission, killing many civilians. It will do so because it seeks victory while minimizing its own losses. It will do so because it has already been ostracized by the West anyway. It will do so because the Ukrainian civilians that it allegedly thought to protect and reunite with as friends, have already become vicious killers of Russian men and sworn enemies to them.

Ukraine is No Saint

Ukraine did not resist Russia in conventional warfare. It did not send its armies out to confront the Russians in the countryside, to minimize civilian casualties. It barricaded itself in its cities, behind resisting civilians, where it could gain a tactical advantage at their expense.

Ukraine opted for this approach, where civilians are placed at severe risk of death. It opted for a brutal and bloody resistance, and it urges foreign volunteers to join in the bloodbath that awaits them. It is willing to sacrifice its women and children, together with naïve foreigners who may join them, to fight to the death or to victory.

Perhaps this sounds brave and heroic to the Western press, but so do the Hamas terrorists who blow themselves up with their women and children for the sake of resistance. They are willing to sacrifice everything for victory or die trying, but that does not make them saints.

People have questioned the sanity of Russian President Vladimir Putin. I would question the sanity of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as well. Zelenskyy seems to be an actor caught up in his own show, building up towards a spectacle of horror that could lure the world into a major conflict.

Zelenskyy is basically telling the world to either fight Russia with him, or else the blood of Ukrainian babies will be on their heads. I do not agree with him.

Zelenskyy made a similar threat to Russia, saying that Putin will have to “raze Kyiv to the ground” to take the city, and further adding that: “If they decide to carpet bomb (Kyiv), and simply erase the history of this region, the history of the Kyivan Rus, the history of Europe, and destroy all of us, then they will enter Kyiv. If that is their goal, let them come in, but they will have to live on this land by themselves.”

By making such a statement, Zelenskyy is basically accepting that Russia can kill all the people of Kyiv and raze the city to the ground, and that he is willing to accept such a consequence if need be, but that Russia will be the one to blame, not him. Russians will have to live with what they have done.

This sounds like an invitation to a bloodbath to me, not the words of a responsible leader who has the best interests of his people at heart.

Even worse, while Zelenskyy appears ready to sacrifice himself and his people for his cause, he also seems willing to bring down the rest of the world with him. His adamant attempts to pull other nations into the conflict are a serious risk to us all.

Yshai Amichaiis a father of six and an author with a legal education, whose books advocate upholding the Torah as a national Constitution. He may be contacted at: [email protected]