Ukraine Update #50: Ukrainian President's Historic Visit to the United States 

WASHINGTON, D.C. September 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 #50


In a historic visit to the United States, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko arrived in Washington today to seek U.S. military and economic support. 


This morning, President Poroshenko addressed a joint session of Congress, thanking the United States for its support and solidarity with the Ukrainian people in their pursuit of democracy and freedom.


The Ukrainian president asked for further U.S. assistance in confronting what he called Russia's imperialistic ambitions in the region. To oppose Russian aggression, Ukraine needs more political and military assistance, including lethal military equipment, he said.


President Poroshenko said that Ukraine is also seeking security and defense partner status with NATO, and encouraged further sanctions against Russia.


The president spoke about Ukraine's "revolution of dignity" against the corrupt Yanukovych regime, and the high price Ukrainians paid for their pursuit of freedom. Dozens continue to be killed, despite the ceasefire with pro-Russian separatists in the East, said President Poroshenko.


President Poroshenko highlighted the implications, for the region and the world, of Ukraine's fight for its freedom, and pledged to uphold the ideals of the Maidan revolution. He underscored that fighting corruption and modernizing government remain his priorities. However, he said, Ukraine needs U.S. support in reforming its economy and judiciary, and in increasing direct investment in Ukraine.


After President Poroshenko's address to Congress, the U.S. announced that it will provide $53 million in aid to Ukraine, including radar equipment. Later today, President Poroshenko will meet with President Barack Obama.


President Poroshenko's symbolic visit comes after the ratification of the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine on Tuesday, which was hailed as a historic moment for Ukraine.


Russia has reacted negatively, and today demanded changes be made to the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. Russian authorities threatened to restrict Ukraine's access to Russian markets if their demands are not met.


Ukrainian authorities reported that Russia has also begun amassing troops in Crimea, along the border with mainland Ukraine.


NCSEJ spoke today with the Jewish community of Donetsk about the situation in the city, and the community's reaction to the new laws providing a special status to the Eastern regions under separatist control. Community representatives said that implications of the law and whether it will be observed by the separatists are not clear yet.


Despite the ceasefire, unrest continues around the Donetsk airport and other strategic locations in the city, and the Jewish community, as well as other residents of Donetsk, are concerned about a potential escalation of violence.


The humanitarian situation is also concerning. Elderly Jews who remained in Donetsk are not receiving their state pensions, and are wholly dependent on assistance from international and local Jewish organizations.


Despite these struggles, Ukrainian Jewish communities remain strong in their support for Ukraine's territorial integrity. Some Jewish leaders who left the regions of unrest are now planning to return, including the Rabbi of Mariupol, despite the threat of Russian invasion of the this strategic city.


The Jewish communities of Eastern and Southern Ukraine are also planning to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and other holidays, and continue their programs with support from Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and other Jewish communities in the stable areas of Ukraine.

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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