I just returned from Boston, where I met with Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) President Barry Shrage, and briefed our long-time partner, the Federation's Boston-Dnipropetrovsk Kehilla Project committee, on the situation in Ukraine and the recent NCSEJ Leadership Mission to Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk.
This week's update includes several stories on the potential impact of building cooperation with Russia to stabilize Syria and defeat ISIS. As Moscow seizes the momentum to play a central role in the international solution to the Syrian crisis, many experts caution that Russia's cooperation may come at a price. Already, ceasefire violations in Ukraine have increased. Some EU members have called for direct EU negotiations with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union, and for other cooperation initiatives with Russia. While reports indicate that the EU is unlikely to lift its sanctions against Russia, many in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world are worried about a potential softening of international pressure on Russia.
A group of religious leaders, organized by the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, have appealed to President Obama and Congress to increase humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. In their statement, they highlight the devastating humanitarian disaster in Ukraine: "The challenges of this human tragedy are overwhelming...even the most conservative estimates show that over 65 percent of projected needs have yet to be met." Also locally, NCSEJ is part of a group that meets with Members of Congress to urge greater humanitarian assistance.
I recommend a Kyiv Post story that analyzes the results of recent local elections in Ukraine, which the author calls a manifestation of a public disappointment with the current Ukrainian government.
I also want to highlight an article about the vibrant Jewish community of Azerbaijan, a "safe haven for Jews in a dangerous regional neighborhood."
Mark B. Levin