Ukraine Update #56: Election Outcomes; Ceasefire Violations; Anti-Semitism; Lviv-Israel Cooperation

WASHINGTON, D.C. November 11, 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 #56


Violence is growing in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, increasing concerns over whether the fragile ceasefire between the pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government will last.

Yesterday, heavy shelling took place in Donetsk, which remains a stronghold of the pro-Russian militants. In another shelling in the city last week, two children were killed and four were wounded.

The recent increase in violence follows a November 2 rebel-held local vote, after rebels refused to participate in Ukraine's national elections on October 26. The vote was condemned by Ukrainian authorities and the West, but Russia welcomed it as an "expression of the will of the residents of southeast [Ukraine]."

Growing numbers of reports are indicating that is Russia sending heavy equipment, tanks, and arms to the rebels, as well as its troops into Ukraine.

On Sunday, the White House expressed concern about Russia's transfer of weapons and tanks to Ukraine, and warned that any attempt by the rebels to seize more territory will be seen as a "blatant violation" of the ceasefire.

While the U.S. and the EU continue to condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine, it is unclear what steps they might be willing to take to deter further Russian involvement. Yesterday, in response to the November 2 separatist elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced EU plans to extend sanctions against individuals, but no new economic sanctions against Russia as a whole are under discussion.

Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin spoke briefly yesterday on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Beijing, discussing Ukraine among other issues.

As the conflict in Eastern Ukraine is deteriorating, Ukraine's national economy is on teetering the brink of bankruptcy. Ukraine's currency lost 5% of its value over the weekend, plunging to an all-time low.

In the meantime, Ukraine's newly-elected parliamentarians are continuing negotiations to form a new coalition government. On Monday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged President Petro Poroshenko to conclude the coalition agreement in order to quickly initiate reforms vital to address Ukraine's multiple ongoing crises.

While the general situation in Ukraine is dire, anti-Semitism in the country is declining. The latest report by Chairman of the Association of Ukraine's Jewish organizations and communities (VAAD) Josef Zissels on the state of anti-Semitism in Ukraine confirms that Ukraine's Jewish communities are not targeted and that Ukrainian authorities are committed to combating xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

NCSEJ is, however, concerned about the recent appointment of Vadim Troyan, a deputy commander of the Azov volunteer battalion and member of a neo-Nazi organization, as the Kyiv regional police chief. We recommend that the government, which has continuously shown its commitment to defending the rights of minorities in Ukraine, reconsider this appointment.

In Western Ukraine, Acting Chair of Lviv's Regional State Administration Yuri Turyanska and Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Eliav Belotserkovski met last week to discuss relations between the Lviv region and Israel, and agreed to pursue active cooperation in tourism, culture, medicine, education and economy. An Honorary Consulate of Israel will open in the near future in Lviv, to support a closer bilateral partnership.
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. 
Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   View our videos on YouTube