In his famous 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill said, “From what I have seen of our Russian friends … I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than weakness.”
For Israel and Ukraine, countries both dealing with Russian-supported proxy wars in their backyards, Churchill’s maxim has never been more relevant or insightful. Russia can be negotiated with only from a position of strength. All other negotiations are destined to fail — often with loss of human life.
Russia recently closed naval traffic through the Kerch Straits; it also wounded six Ukrainian sailors and captured a Ukrainian navy vessel. The next day, Ukraine’s parliament approved a declaration of martial law in regions bordering Russia, the Black Sea, and the Russian proxy state of Transnistria. The willingness of the Ukrainians to show resolve in defense of their country was a historic moment. In contrast, when Russia annexed Crimea and took control of half of the eastern Donbas region in the spring of 2014, Ukraine could not declare martial law, and its armies were in no shape to defend their territory.
Ukraine has learned what Israel has long known: weakness invites war.