As an estimated 100,000 Russian troops mass on the border of Ukraine, Israel is preparing to evacuate some 75,000 people living in eastern Ukraine who are believed to be eligible for Israeli citizenship In addition, an estimated 10,000 Israeli nationals are currently in Ukraine. A closely guarded secret, handed down for three centuries, predicted that this political crisis would be the precursor to the War of Gog and Magog.
Evacuating the Jews
Haaretz reported that members of the relevant government offices met on Sunday to discuss the eventuality of evacuating the Ukrainian Jews. This included the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Minister, Defense Ministry, Diaspora Affairs Ministry, and the Jewish Agency.
A Foreign Ministry official on Monday said Israel is not currently expecting a surge in immigration from Ukraine and also noted that the Jewish Agency handles such immigration issues.
The situation puts Israel into a political bind. Russia has a significant military presence in Syria and plays a significant role in the region. Despite Russia’s advanced S-300 anti-air system being deployed, Israel continues to operate airstrikes against Hezbollah and Iranian military assets inside Syria, implying Moscow’s tacit permission. At the same time, Israel also has strong economic ties with Ukraine which has one of the world’s largest Jewish communities. In addition, as a strong US ally, Israel is following Washington’s lead in the crisis.
US pulling out its people or abandoning them?
The US State Department issued warnings on Sunday due to “increased threats of Russian military action” and the possibility of “civil unrest”. The advisory warned against traveling to Ukraine. At the same time, the State Department authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. direct hire employees (USDH) and ordered the departure of eligible family members (EFM) from Embassy Kyiv (Kiev). It also recommended that “U.S. citizens in Ukraine should consider departing now using commercial or other privately available transportation options”.
The State Department site also warned against traveling to Ukraine due to the CDC issuing a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Ukraine. The State Department recommended that people planning on traveling to Ukraine should get vaccinated.
At a briefing on Sunday, a senior state department official stated that “military action by Russia could come at any time.”
“The United States Government will not be in a position to evacuate U.S. citizens in such a contingency,” he said. “So U.S. citizens currently present in Ukraine should plan accordingly, including by availing themselves of commercial options should they choose to leave the country.”
This statement raised concerns that should Russia invade Ukraine, US citizens will be trapped, as happened in the pullout from Afghanistan in August. There are still an unknown number of US citizens in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
The official admitted that they do not know how many US citizens are currently in Ukraine.
The official also stated that Ukraine had already received a $200 million shipment of military aid in what he called “the first of several shipments”.
“As President Biden told President Putin, should Russia further invade Ukraine, the consequences will be severe, and the United States will provide additional defensive material to Ukraine above and beyond that already provided,” the official said.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken rejected that sanctions against Russia are an effective deterrent.
“Once sanctions are triggered, you lose the deterrent effect,” Blinken told CBS. “So what we’re doing is putting together a whole series of actions that would figure into President Putin’s calculus.”
US and Europe
The US has put 8,500 troops on alert to deploy at short notice if the Nato military alliance decides to activate a rapid-reaction force. On Monday, President Biden participated in an 80-minute video conference with allied leaders from Europe and Nato.
“The leaders agreed that, should a further Russian incursion into Ukraine happen, allies must enact swift retributive responses including an unprecedented package of sanctions,” The British government said in a statement after the meeting.
Russian invasion of Crimea: Beginning of Gog and Magog
It should be noted that Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. Despite voicing strong rhetoric, President Obama was criticized for an essentially weak response.
This event was seen by many Israeli mystics as the precursor to the final War of Gog and Magog. A teaching from the 18th century Rabbinic sage known as the Vilna Gaon who singled out Russian aggression as a precursor to the Messiah.
“When you hear that the Russians have captured the city of Crimea, you should know that the times of the Messiah have started, that his steps are being heard,” the Vilna Gaon told his followers just before his death in 1797. “And when you hear that the Russians have reached the city of Constantinople (today’s Istanbul), you should put on your Shabbat clothes and don’t take them off, because it means that the Messiah is about to come any minute.”
This teaching was handed down in secret until it was finally revealed six years ago by Rabbi Moshe Shturnbuch, a respected rabbi in the Orthodox Jewish community.
This is also hinted at in a verse in the Book of Ezekiel:
In this verse, the Hebrew word for ‘chief’ is רֹאשׁ (Rosh), which hints at ‘Russia.’