Ukraine Update #39: Donetsk, Slovyansk Jewish communities Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. July 15, 2014

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, NCSEJ Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director


Ukraine Update #39


The civilian death toll is rising in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, as fighting between the Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian militants continues.


At least 11 civilians were killed today in an airstrike in the town of Snizhne, Donetsk region. Pro-Russian separatists claimed the strike was carried out by the Ukrainian military. Ukraine's authorities denied the allegations and blamed Moscow's involvement for today's airstrike and an attack on a Ukrainian cargo plane in Luhansk yesterday.


On Sunday, Russian authorities warned Ukraine of "irreversible consequences, the responsibility for which lies on the Ukrainian side" after a missile strike killed a civilian on the Russian side of the border.


There have been reports of continued flow of Russian arms, and a resumption of a buildup of Russian troops along the border.


As rhetoric on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides escalates, EU leaders will meet tomorrow in Brussels to discuss the crisis in Ukraine and consider further sanctions against Russia.


In the meantime, Ukrainian authorities have pledged to seize control of the remaining separatist strongholds, including the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.


NCSEJ spoke today with the Jewish community representatives in Donetsk. They reported increasing violence in the city. In addition, many city residents have lost their jobs; a weakened economy and rising prices are contributing to the difficult living situation in the city. However, Jewish community programs continue as scheduled, and there are no significant changes in Jewish community life.


The Ukrainian government has started efforts to rebuild the areas liberated from the separatists. Jewish community of Slovyansk said that electricity and gas supplies has been restored in most parts of the town, and life in Slovyansk is starting to normalize. However, many residents who have left town, including members of Jewish community, are reluctant to return, as concerns remain about the potential for a resumption of violence in Slovyansk and the neighborhood towns.


Community representatives also voiced concerns about long-term implications of the destruction of resort and health facilities, which has been a major source of the town's income. Four schools, a kindergarten, and many residential buildings have also suffered severe damage.


While the Ukrainian government has gained ground in the Donetsk region, according to media reports the situation in the Luhansk region is worsening. Especially troubling is the situation in the city of Luhansk itself, where heavy fighting was reported.



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. 
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. 
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