Ukraine sees allies protect Israel from Iran attack and asks: What about us?

For Kyiv, the apparent double standard comes at a particularly perilous moment.

Ukrainian officials have been sounding the alarm for weeks that without urgent supplies of new military support, Ukraine will be unable to hold off Russian forces that are advancing on the battlefield and assaulting it from the air.

Podolyak’s boss, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, made a similarly direct case for support in his nightly address Monday. “European skies could have received the same level of protection long ago if Ukraine had received similar full support from its partners in intercepting drones and missiles,” he said.

“We can now see how unity can work,” he added.

But the U.S. and its Western partners have made clear their reluctance to go as far in Ukraine as they did in the Middle East.

“U.S. and NATO have been adamant that they will not get into conflict with Russia,” said Frank Ledwidge, a former British military intelligence officer and senior lecturer in war studies at England’s University of Portsmouth.

“Nobody wants to get involved fighting Russia,” he said.

A NATO conflict with Russia would be a “dangerous escalation,” Britain’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, told radio station LBC on Monday, saying it was vital to prevent a “wider European war.”

Asked why British forces couldn’t shoot down Russian unmanned drones just as they had done to support Israel, he said it was an “interesting question,” adding that Ukraine must be armed with air defense systems that are more effective than jets.

President Joe Biden has also made it clear that the U.S. won’t take on a combat role in Ukraine, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Monday. “Different conflicts, different airspace, different threat picture,” Kirby said.

That will offer little comfort to Ukraine, which increasingly fears it could face defeat this year.

An emerging focal point is Kharkiv, where the impact of Western air defenses, or the lack thereof, may be felt the most.