Citing Israeli example, Zelensky says Ukrainians ‘need to learn to live with conflict’

President also refers to Jewish state in detailing his desire for security backing from Washington, citing ‘the Israeli model that includes weapons, technology, training, finances’

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to Ukrainian media, August 27, 2023. (Video screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to Ukrainian media, August 27, 2023. (Video screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky evoked Israel during an interview aired Sunday when noting the need for society to get used to prolonged conflict.

As the 18-month-long war with Russia drags on, it seems increasingly possible the conflict could take years to reach a resolution.

Speaking to local media, Zelensky said: “We need to learn to live with [the conflict]. We need to learn. Israel is at war. It depends on what kind of war.

“We are prepared to keep fighting for a very long period of time… [while] minimizing the number of casualties. Like in Israel, for example. We can live like that.”

Unlike Israel, however, he noted that Kyiv could not take the fight to its enemy’s territory as there was “a big risk” that the country could lose support from its allies and “be left alone.”

He added that this could happen at any rate due to internal reasons countries currently supporting the war effort.

“Ukraine needs to know that at some point, it may be left on its own,” he said.

Zelensky mentioned Israel again later in the interview, in expressing his desire to receive security guarantees from Washington.

“The Israeli model… we will likely get this exact model. The Israeli model that includes weapons, technology, training, finances, etc.”

US President Joe Bidenwalks with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky ahead of a working session on Ukraine during the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Hiroshima on May 21, 2023. (Susan Walsh / POOL / AFP)

The Pentagon said Thursday it would begin training Ukrainian F-16 pilots in the United States starting next month so they can use the advanced aircraft against Russian forces.

Ukraine has long sought these sophisticated fighter jets so as to better fight the Russian invasion, and is now engaged in a fitful counter-offensive aimed at retaking land held by Russian forces.

The US training will involve “several” pilots and “dozens” of personnel to maintain the aircraft, said Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder.

“These pilots will be conducting English language training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas in September prior to attending F-16 flying training in Arizona” the following month, he said.

Zelensky and US President Joe Biden spoke Thursday and discussed the training program, the White House said.

The US program expands plans already announced by European allies to train Ukrainian personnel to fly the US-made F-16.

Also Thursday Zelensky praised his people for fighting for “freedom” in an address to mark the country’s second Independence Day during wartime.

“Today we celebrate the 32nd anniversary of our independence — the independence of Ukraine. A holiday of free people,” Zelensky said in a statement on social media.

Freedom “is a value for each of us, and we are fighting for it,” Zelensky said as the war in Ukraine enters its 19th month.

US Air Force F-16 fighter jet is on display during the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, Monday, June 19, 2023 (AP Photo/Lewis Joly, File)

The country’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said on Telegram that the fight for independence “continues to this day — now with the imperial aggressor” Russia.

Kyiv’s security service chief Vasyl Maliuk also said on Telegram that the holiday had taken on “new meanings” during the war with Moscow.

“It became not only the personification of our right to life and freedom, but also a symbol of heroism and bravery,” Maliuk said.

In Brussels, EU government buildings were lit up in the blue-and-yellow colors of Ukraine, and Ukrainian flags were hoisted along EU ones.

EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen commended Ukrainians for their “courage, their force and enduring hope in a future of peace and prosperity in a united Europe.”

“They are an inspiration to all Europeans,” she said on social media.

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