As Russia increases its military presence in Syria, there are far more questions than answers about Russia's goals in the country, and how far they extend to the rest of the Middle East region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and high-level Israeli defense officials traveled to Moscow early this week, to coordinate military strategy in Syria. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Turkish President Recep Erdogan also held talks with President Putin this week. There is much speculation by some analysts that Russia believes it is increasing its global presence by filling a void created by the United States.
President Barack Obama will meet with President Putin during the United Nations General Assembly session next week, for the first time since last summer. The crises in Syria and Ukraine are expected to dominate the agenda.
An opposition rally was held in the outskirts of Moscow on Sunday, protesting the increasingly authoritarian and corrupt system in Russia. The rally drew several thousand people, a modest number in comparison with the height of the opposition protests in 2012. The government refused to allow the demonstrators to gather in the center of Moscow.
I want to highlight an interesting story by the
on the Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar's assessment of the situation in Russia. According to Rabbi Lazar, despite a recent spike in emigration, the Jewish community is safe in Russia in the long term. Rabbi Lazar added that "any president who succeeds Mr. Putin hopefully will show the same support for the Jewish community." He highlighted a change in the atmosphere in the Russian society, saying "that Jews feel as comfortable as they ever have been today in Russia."
I also want to bring to your attention Steven Pifer's report on the progress in Ukraine since the Maidan revolution. Pifer highlights challenges that remain despite progress made, including fighting corruption, reducing influence of the oligarchs in the economy and politics, and the increasing tensions in relations between Ukraine's coalition parties and leaders.
Over the course of the next two weeks NCSEJ leadership will meet with many leaders from Eurasia on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss issues of importance to the Jewish communities in the region.
Mark B. Levin