Ukraine Update #45: Crisis in Eastern Ukraine  

WASHINGTON, D.C. August 18, 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 #45


Russia's aid convoy to eastern Ukraine is now parked near the Ukraine border for inspection. Under the agreement to allow the convoy to proceed, all 280 trucks are to be inspected with supervision of the Red Cross representatives, Ukraine officials, and border guards. Currently the Red Cross is waiting for pro-Russian separatists to guarantee the safety of its workers, so that it may proceed with the inspection.


A UK Telegraph journalist witnessed at least 23 military vehicles and armored personnel crossing over the Ukraine border at the Izvarino checkpoint on Thursday evening. On August 15, NATO accused Russia of escalating the conflict in Ukraine. "Russia has been escalating the conflict, even as it calls for de-escalation" NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said today.


Andriy Lysenko, Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman, reported on Saturday that Ukrainian artillery had destroyed most of a Russian military unit that crossed the border earlier last week. Russia's Defense Ministry denied that a military column crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border and referred to this incident as "some kind of fantasy."


On August 14, Ukraine's parliament passed legislation to impose sanctions on 172 individuals and 65 entities for financing and supporting the separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian parliament is waiting for Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council to approve sanctions on Russia.


Andriy Lysenko, the Ukrainian government's security spokesman, reported that the territory occupied by militants in eastern Ukraine has been reduced by 80% during the anti-terrorist operation. However, the humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine continues, according to the Luhansk Regional Administration. Approximately 5,750 civilians have left Luhansk through the humanitarian corridor since July 29 and the UN-estimated death toll from the conflict has doubled in the past two weeks, to at least 2,086.


NCSEJ has contacted several Jewish communities in Ukraine who report that, after four months of violence in eastern Ukraine, the situation is alarming.


Donetsk Jewish community representatives report constant shooting and bombing in the city. Water supplies are cut off, as Donetsk's main water facility shut down on Sunday due to damaged power lines. Many stores and banks are closed and there are shortages of medical supplies and food.


The situation in Luhansk is critical. Dozens of civilians were killed in an attack on a refugee convoy in the Luhansk region on August 18. The city remains without power, water, and landline and mobile telephone communications.


According to the Jewish Agency, Luhansk Rabbi Shalom Gopin has established shelters for about 200 local Jewish refugees. Overall, about 500 Jews have been able to leave the city. The Jewish Agency, working with the JDC, Christian organizations, volunteers, and the local community, are working to relocate civilians to Kharkov and Zhitomir.


Currently the Jewish population in the eastern Ukraine cities of Torez, Snizhne, and Shakhtars consists mostly of elderly people who have no opportunity to leave their homes.


Representatives of the Jewish communities of Horlovka and Dzerzhynsk report water, electricity and food shortages. Mobile and landline telephone systems are functioning poorly.


The situation in neighboring Mariupol and Kharkov is stable. Jewish communities are working as usual and programs are being held. There are however, an increasing number of refugees from Luhansk and Donetsk, and services are being provided to give the refugees food and shelter. There were no anti-Semitic incidents witnessed in the cities.


The Jewish Agency reported that total increase of aliyah from Ukraine is 151% in January-July 2014 comparing to the same period last year. The largest percentage of olim have come from Odessa, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv, and Simferopol.

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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