Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday post-war Ukraine will likely be modeled as a “big Israel” in terms of security with self-protection, and will no longer be a “liberal European” city.
“Ukraine will definitely not be what we wanted it to be from the beginning. It is impossible. Absolutely liberal, European – it will not be like that. It [Ukraine] will definitely come from the strength of every house, every building, every person,” Zelensky said at a press briefing.
“We will become a ‘big Israel’ with its own face. We will not be surprised if we have representatives of the Armed Forces or the National Guard in cinemas, supermarkets, and people with weapons. I am confident that the question of security will be the issue number one for the next 10 years. I am sure of it.”
He added he would not, however, allow it to turn into an authoritarian state which “is impossible in Ukraine.”
“An authoritarian state would lose to Russia. People know what they are fighting for,” he said.
According to Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodskyuch, Zelensky’s remarks are “not new.”
Israel has “always been a role model for Ukraine, at least in terms of security and self-protection,” Brodskyuch told the Haaretz daily.
Zelensky established a new wing of the armed forces on Monday called the “International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine,” intended for foreign nationals who wish to come to fight in the country’s war against Russia. https://t.co/QO57Zduqtk
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Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk told the newspaper that Kyiv did not allow itself to rely on international security pacts, like those received after its nuclear disarmament.
“Israelis have lived surrounded by enemies for all of their history and Ukraine will be doing the same,” Korniychuk said.
“Now we have to retain much bigger armed forces against our two neighboring states and that’s why our leadership currently sees that, no matter what happens next, [things] in Ukraine will be similar to the security situation in Israel. You will see more armed people in the streets, even when things become more peaceful than they are now.”
Last December, amid Russian deployment on the Ukrainian border, Zelensky compared his country’s struggle against Russia to the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Haaretz cited Zelensky as saying that Israel is “often an example for Ukraine” and that “both Ukrainians and Jews value freedom,” working “equally for the future of our states to become to our liking, and not the future which others want for us.”
“We know what it’s like not to have [one’s] own state,” Zelensky, who is Jewish, told the Kyiv Jewish Forum. “We know what it means to defend one’s own state and land with weapons in hand, at the cost of [their] own lives.”