Russia's escalating intervention in Syria is causing growing concerns in the international community. While Russia's precise goals in Syria are unclear, the implications of Russia's actions extend beyond the immediate region.
Already, Russia's intervention is beginning to impact the situation in Ukraine. Some analysts suggest that Russia now has fewer resources to fuel the conflict in Ukraine. At the same time, as the West shifts some of its attention away from Ukraine, Russia may feel less pressure to resolve that crisis. The update includes several articles on similarities between and implications of Russia's strategies in Syria and Ukraine.
One indication of a potential change in Russia's Ukraine strategy is the decision of the pro-Russian separatists to delay local elections until February. The Ukrainian government and the West, who see the separatist-organized elections as illegitimate, welcomed the development as a sign of progress.
It is unclear whether the current lull in Donbas will last, but the Ukrainian government needs to proceed with reforms despite uncertainty. I recommend a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that analyzes the progress of reform in Ukraine. The report details many important reform initiatives, but also underscores that the whole process lacks "strategic direction".
An interesting Jerusalem Post story included in the update describes recent statements by a senior Russian Jewish leader who endorsed Russia's military support for President Assad. The story gives an insight into some of the contradictions that Russia's Jewish community faces in its relationship with the government.
I also want to highlight a report by the World Union for Progressive Judaism on High Holidays celebrations throughout the former Soviet region, where thousands of "Jewish men and women living in the FSU gathered strength by worshiping together, and welcoming visitors from around the world."
Mark B. Levin