Israel has intensified airstrikes on Gaza after Hamas’ attack sparked a war in which more than 1,200 people in Israel and 1,400 people in Gaza have been killed.
As an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza looms, Russia and China have seized on the United States’ promise to help long-time ally Israel defend itself.
Both Moscow and Beijing blame the U.S. for the conflict and undermine U.S. support for Ukraine, with state-owned media spreading a disinformation narrative focusing on the alleged U.S. inability to aid both Israel and Ukraine.
Cartoons are a popular tool the state media in China uses for anti-U.S. propaganda.
One recent cartoon published in China’s state-owned Global Times depicts Uncle Sam bound at the waist by ropes. The ropes are attached to trucks — one labeled “Ukraine aid,” the other “Israeli aid” — moving in opposite directions.
The caption reads: “Stretched too thin.”
That is misleading.
On October 11, the U.S. announced a new military aid package for Ukraine that includes additional air defense capabilities, anti-tank weapons and other equipment.
Analysts concur that Ukraine’s and Israel’s most pressing military needs differ.
“Israel’s most urgent needs are air-launched precision-guided munitions and interceptor replenishments for [the] Iron Dome — and there is little to no current competition between Israel and Ukraine for those capabilities,” said Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Washington, D.C.-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies' Center on Military and Political Power.
Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system is not designed to fire the same interceptor used by the U.S.-made Patriot or other missile defense systems the U.S. and its allies have supplied to Ukraine.
“If we see an extended ground war, the weapons Israel needs from the United States may begin to overlap with some of the weapons Ukraine needs. But some overlap in the weapons needed by Ukraine and Israel could certainly be managed. Assertions that the United States cannot support Ukraine and Israel at the same time do not withstand scrutiny,” Bowman said.
Ukraine also needs anti-ship, anti-tank and anti-air missiles targeting military ships, aircraft and vehicles that Hamas does not have.
While successive tranches of U.S. aid to Ukraine have included millions of rounds of small arms ammunition, Reuters reports that Israel is unlikely to have depleted its stocks of small arms ammunition thus far.
Still, NATO officials warn that Western ammo stocks are diminishing.
Ukraine, and likely Israel, both need 155-millimeter artillery shells.
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and others have criticized the U.S. decision to transfer 300,000 rounds of 155-millimeter artillery shells from Israel to Ukraine.
“We’re on track to deplete our munitions & other stockpiles with dual conflicts in Ukraine & now in Israel. It’s zero-sum which paves the way for China to invade Taiwan as the U.S. reaches a nadir in our capacity,” Ramaswamy posted on X.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz estimated Israel used at least 32,000 artillery shells during the 2014 Gaza War, which lasted one month, two weeks and four days.
Ukraine uses an estimated 6,000 artillery round each day, less than the 10,000 per day its military wants.
At its height, Russia hammered Ukraine with 60,000 shells and rockets a day.
Amid concerns over diminishing Western ammunition stocks, the U.S. has roughly doubled its monthly production of 155-mm artillery shells to 28,000 and is aiming to produce 80,000-100,000 rounds per month by late 2025.
So far, the U.S. Congress has provided more than $113 billion in aid to Ukraine.
U.S. President Joe Biden asked Congress for an additional $24 billion in Ukraine aid on August 10.
Rajan Menon, a political science professor at the City College of New York, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a VOA sister organization, the U.S. can meet the requests of both Israel and Ukraine, considering the $800 billion allocated in the annual budget to the Department of Defense. On a broader scale, the U.S. government spent $6.27 trillion in fiscal year 2022.
The U.S. national debt now exceeds $33 trillion dollars, driving calls for spending cuts.
The issue, Menon and others argue, is one of political will, as U.S. support for Ukraine aid is declining while support for Israel is unwavering.
The Biden administration has mulled providing additional support to Ukraine by bundling assistance to Israel, Taiwan, and Ukraine. Some Republican lawmakers say they will resist any such funding request.
Meantime, the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said Moscow “has already used and will likely continue to use Hamas’ attacks on Israel to promote information operations aimed at reducing U.S. and Western support and attention to Ukraine."