In light of recent turmoil enveloping Jerusalem, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took to X (formerly Twitter) to assert his unambiguous support for Israel’s right to self-defense following a deadly Hamas attack. He denounced terrorism as a “crime against humanity” and affirmed that the right to self-defense is unquestionable. These remarks, though typical from a head of state, reveal a deeper layer of contradiction in the form of hypocrisy when juxtaposed against the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War.
Zelenskyy’s endorsement of self-defense reflects a long-standing Israeli doctrine of self-reliance in security matters. Interestingly, he has harbored aspirations for Ukraine to adopt a similar stance, aligning with Israel’s security doctrine.
However, the pathway to such self-reliance for Ukraine appears to be strewn with obstacles. Zelenskyy’s discontent with Israel’s reluctance to provide Ukraine with anti-missile systems to counter Russian aggression has been palpable. His dismay deepened with Israel’s refusal to sanction Russia, despite his appeals for assistance in Ukraine’s struggle against Russian encroachment.
Horrible news from Israel. My condolences go out to everyone who lost relatives or close ones in the terrorist attack. We have faith that order will be restored and terrorists will be defeated.
Terror should have no place in the world, because it is always a crime, not just…
— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) October 7, 2023
The intricacies of these interactions lay bare a stark hypocrisy. Zelenskyy’s unequivocal support for Israel’s right to self-defense seems to be at odds with his plea for aid in Ukraine’s own quest for self-defense. The contentious issue of self-defense becomes even more convoluted when the aggressors in one scenario are the victims in another, and vice versa. Israel, finding itself under attack from Hamas, claims its right to self-defense, a stance Ukraine and Zelenskyy strongly support. Yet, Israel’s actions in Palestine and its refusal to acknowledge Palestine’s right to self-defense mirror Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
The irony of Zelenskyy’s staunch support for Israel’s right to self-defense, while simultaneously battling Russian aggression at home, elucidates the absurdity of what the president is fighting for.