Weekly News Update 

WASHINGTON, D.C. August 21, 2015
TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties
FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director
Dear Friend,

Despite cooperation on the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. and Russia bilateral relationship continues to deteriorate. Yesterday, at a Pentagon press conference, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter acknowledged the serious significance of Russia's aggressive military posture. He called Russia a "very, very significant threat," agreeing with an assessment made by top military officials. "Vladimir Putin's Russia," he said "behaves, in many respects, as -- in some respects and in very important respects, as an antagonist." However, Carter said, the U.S. and Russia would continue to work together in areas where both countries' interests align.

In addition, Russia and Iran have reached an agreement on resuming sales of S-300 missiles. According to Russian officials, the contract is expected to be signed next week, and deliveries of the S-300 to Iran will resume by the end of the year. The United States and Israel have criticized the agreement.

Vladimir Yakunin, the head of Russia's national railway company and a powerful supporter of President Putin, resigned from his position this week, triggering speculations that his departure is a part of an internal shake-up of the inner circle of President Putin's loyalists. A New York Times story included in the update analyzes the development.

I want to highlight a Jerusalem Post story about Birthright participants from Ukraine and Crimea. The article describes the difficulties the young participants have to overcome to make their journey to Israel.

With the spike in violence in Eastern Ukraine, more parents are looking for ways to send their children away from the areas of unrest. Due to the ongoing fighting, one such summer camp for Jewish youth has been relocated to nearby Georgia, as detailed in a JTA story included in the update.

Lastly, on Tuesday former U.S. Congressman Louis Stokes passed away at the age of 90. I had the privilege of knowing and working with Mr. Stokes for most of his Congressional career.  He was a founding member and leader of the Congressional Coalition for Soviet Jews, one of the largest caucuses ever created in the Congress. Mr. Stokes was widely admired by his colleagues for being fair-minded and conscientious. We lost a gentle man and a gentleman this week. Lou Stokes will be remembered and missed by so many, both those who knew him well and those who were impacted by his distinguished public career. 
Mark B. Levin
Executive Director

Please visit http://ncsej.org/NCSEJ-Wkly.pdf
for NCSEJ's Weekly News Update.
Founded in 1971, NCSEJ represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union. 
Website:  www.ncsej.org   
Email:  ncsejinfo@ncsej.org 
Phone: 202-898-2500 
NCSEJ is a beneficiary of The Jewish Federations of North America and the National Federation/Agency Alliance through its network of Federations.