Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin צילום: Shutterstock

The beat of war drums coming out of Russia gets ever louder as it sticks to its invasion of Ukraine. It is hard to differentiate between words of deliberate propaganda meant to intimidate and confuse, and between genuine hard core threats meant to be warnings that precede action. Mostly it seems like a mix of both, as Russian leaders and spokespeople come out with the most outrageous comments regarding those whom they perceive to be their enemies and worthy of being threatened.

This now includes threats to Israel as well as to things that concern Jews still living in Russia.

In two prior articles on Arutz Sheva I wrote about the "The Russian Nuclear Headache" (Apr 28, 2022) and "The Russian Nuclear Drumbeat Grows Louder" (Jun 2, 2022) but Russian threats are often couched in such a way that even when not talking about the nuclear option, the underlying premise from the Russian point of view is that its opponents must understand that Russia is a world nuclear super power with a willingness to use its vaunted nuclear arsenal. The Russians assume that this automatically scares and frightens anyone listening to their various types of threats, that everyone sees the world the way they do, but they do not grasp that outsiders are not as paranoid and xenophobic as they are.

Here is a small sampling of some of those Russian threats, nuclear and otherwise, that have surfaced in the last couple of weeks:

* Putin ally warns US, Russia could start military fight over Alaska. (7/6/22)

* Russia to send Belarus nuclear-capable missiles within months. (6/25/22)

* Russia threatens 'Doomsday' if Ukraine attacks Crimea. (7/17/22)

* What if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine? (6/20/22)

* Putin ally warns WW III is coming unless West stops weapons supply. (5/23/22)

* Vladimir Putin's 'Iron Doll' threatens nuclear strikes on London and Washington. (6/29/22)

* Russia warns humanity at risk if West seeks to punish it over Ukraine. (7/7/22)

* Russia issues thinly veiled threat at Moldova after EU membership decision. (6/24/22)

* Russia will go all the way to Warsaw if US arms Ukraine more. (7/13/22)

* Russia's hostile measures in Europe, understanding the threat. (RAND)

Of course Russia continues to press hard on Ukraine as it wages a relentless, grim, near-total war on it without regard to its own casualties and tons of lost materiel and fighting vehicles. Some estimates even say that Russia has strategically lost its war in Ukraine and that Russia will soon exhaust its combat capabilities, but nevertheless Russia fights on as if there is no deadline to this war. In that vein, Russia has raised its threat level against Ukraine as it ramps up its fighting forces:

* Russia threatens 'Judgement Day' response to any attack on Crimea. (7/17/22)

* Russia threatens broad Ukraine offensive. (7/10/22)

* Putin threatens new targets if Ukraine gets longer-range rockets; missiles hit Kyiv. (6/5/22)

* Russia signals a more aggressive phase of combat. (7/18/22)

* No respite for Ukrainian civilians despite pause in Russia's advance. (7/11/22)

* Russia is preparing for the next stage of its offensive in Ukraine. (7/17/22)

This is all most worrying for Israel and the Jews who are escaping Ukraine and still remaining in Russia. As I wrote in Arutz Sheva: "From Covid to Kiev" (Mar 16, 2022) a thirty year "Golden Age" of religious freedom, from the fall of the USSR in 1991 to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in 2022, has come to an end:

"While Yiddishkeit (Judaism) flourished in Russia, it was Ukraine that became not just a place where its remaining Jews could grow in Torah and Judaism, but a place that also welcomed tidal waves of Jewish religious pilgrims mainly from Israel to Uman on Rosh Hashannah to the grave-site of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772 - 1810), as well as to other final resting places of famous Hasidic Rebbes such as Chernobyl, Makarov, Skvir, the first and second Rebbes of Lubavitch are buried in Ukraine, Belz, Shpola, Berditchev, Zhitomir, Medzibozh, Polonoe, Bratslav and many, many more too many to mention!"

All that is now gone until such time as the cannons stop roaring and the missiles stop flying and the killing and destruction on the ground finally stops.

Before the war broke there was God forbid a potential for "War on two fronts" (Dec 9, 2021) but so far there has been a sustained intensive war on one front as China has not carried out its threats to invade Taiwan. Still and all: "the fact remains that China is a supporter of Iran and if China gets away with its bellicosity and saber rattling, it encourages Iran to do the same. Monkey see, monkey do. The Russian army is ensconced in Syria and has made it into a vassal state of new Russian Empire under Putin since 2015 and at the end of 2017, the Russian government said its troops would be deployed to Syria permanently!"

Recently Russia has upped the ante when it comes to Israel and the Jews of Russia:

* Russia warns Israel against supplying Ukraine with defensive gear. (4/22/22)

* Russia threatens to end cooperation in Syria with Israel. (4/5/22)

* Russia's next target for intimidation could be Israel. (3/1/22)

* Israel concerned Russia may create obstacles to Jewish emigration. (7/18/22)

* Israel says Russia threatens to halt Jewish Agency activity. (7/5/22)

* Israel won't stick out its neck for Ukraine. It's because of Russia. (4/13/22)

* Ukraine says it will not allow in Uman pilgrims for Rosh Hashanah. (7/7/22)

* Russian Jews fear resurgent anti-Semitism amid Ukraine war. (7/4/22)

* Moscow's chief rabbi, now in exile, says war has been a catastrophe for Jews in Ukraine. (6/7/22)

* Russia officially calls for Jewish Agency operations to be 'dissolved'. (7/21/22)

So a major conclusion is that the longer the Russo-Ukrainian War drags on, the stickier the geo-political situation of Israel becomes. It needs much diplomatic acumen to find a way to preserve Israel's ability to continue attacking Iran's presence in Syria while both Ukraine and Russia expect its support.

At the same time, the difficulties for Russian, Ukrainian and all other Jews still remaining in Eastern Europe continue to become more complicated and bogged down in the proverbial and actual exhaust fumes amid the fog of war emanating from Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe.

No one can predict what the next months will bring.

Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin was born in Israel, grew up in South Africa, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. He is an alumnus of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin and of Teachers College-Columbia University. He heads the Jewish Professionals Institute dedicated to Jewish Adult Education and Outreach - Kiruv Rechokim. He was the Director of the Belzer Chasidim's Sinai Heritage Center of Manhattan 1988-1995, a Trustee of AJOP 1994-1997 and founder of American Friends of South African Jewish Education 1995-2015.

He is the author of The Second World War and Jewish Education in America: The Fall and Rise of Orthodoxy.

Contact Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin at izakrudomin@gmail.com