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The Ukraine “Israel Model” & Its Discontents

The idea of having a legally codified security relationship with Ukraine—a close partner, but not a treaty ally—is now official U.S. policy.
The idea of having a legally codified security relationship with Ukraine—a close partner, but not a treaty ally—is now official U.S. policy. Photo: Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
August 1, 2023

If you’ve been anywhere near Washington in recent months and spent any time talking about Ukraine to any of its foreign policy wonks, you will have heard the term “Israel model” bandied about. The idea began circulating before NATO’s Vilnius summit last month in response to the conundrum in which the organization’s member countries now find themselves: As a bloodied Ukraine desperately knocks on their door, the alliance was torn on whether or not to open it, and when. 

Should NATO let Ukraine in now, while it is at war with nuclear-armed Russia, thereby immediately getting dragged into the war itself? Or should NATO condition Ukraine’s entry upon first ending the war, thereby giving Vladimir Putin every incentive to keep the war going for as long as possible?