Ukraine Update #63: Ceasefire agreement reached; Jewish communities report from Donbass and Kharkov 

WASHINGTON, D.C. February 12, 2015

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, NCSEJ Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director


Ukraine Update #63


After seventeen hours of talks, the presidents of Ukraine, France, Russia, and the German Chancellor agreed on a document which should lead to progress in the peace process in Eastern Ukraine.


The international peace talks took place February 11-12 in Minsk, Belarus. The document provides for:  


1. A ceasefire to be observed in some areas of Donetsk and Lugansk. Its strict implementation starts at midnight (Kyiv time) on February 15.
2. The withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides at equal distances in order to create a security zone at least 50 kilometers (31 miles) wide between the two forces.
3. The OSCE to verify the ceasefire and to monitor, by any necessary means, including satellites, drones, and radar systems, the withdrawal of heavy weapons, beginning no later than the second day, and to be completed in two weeks.
4. In line with the Ukraine's law on temporary self-rule for parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, a dialogue to be held on local elections and the regions' political future.
5. Amnesty for all members of illegal armed insurgent groups.
6. An exchange of prisoners of war, and the release of hostages and other illegally detained people.
7. The secure access, delivery, storage, and distribution of humanitarian assistance to the needy, under international supervision.
8. A process for the full restoration of the socioeconomic relations, including social transfers, such as pensions and other payments (income, utility payments, taxation) within the legal framework of Ukraine. Ukraine should also reinstate banking services in conflict-affected areas.
9. Restoration of full control by the government over Ukraine's national borders throughout the conflict zone, beginning on the first day after the local elections, to be completed after local elections in some regions of Donetsk.
10. The withdrawal of all foreign armed forces, military equipment, and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine, under the supervision of the OSCE.
11. Constitutional reform in Ukraine: by the end of 2015, a new constitution will enter into force, with decentralization of power to Donetsk and Luhansk as a key element.

Ukraine Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevhen Perebiynis cautioned that "the new agreement in Minsk is a chance to restore the destroyed Donbas, but Russia will be solely responsible for the possibility of their failure."

NCSEJ has spoken with representatives of Jewish communities of Donbas to gauge their reaction to the new agreement. Some leaders worry that, just as the first Minsk agreement signed in September proved ineffective, with the ceasefire being repeatedly violated, there is no guarantee that the new ceasefire will not be broken. Some people in the Jewish community are also worried about the complexity of the new agreement, which they believe may be difficult to enforce.

Local Jews says that they will quickly see whether the new Minsk agreement is working: if in the coming days a ceasefire takes hold, the withdrawal of heavy weapons begins, and people have a genuine sense that the war has ended.

NCSEJ also spoke with Kharkov Jewish community member Stanislav Gluzman, who reported that the situation is stable, although refugees are still arriving. The Kharkov Jewish community has had to cut its spending, and the community has received less financial support from local donors compared to previous years, due to the deteriorating economic situation in the region and the country as a whole. He noted that a second wave of emigration to Israel began in January, over fears about the war's continuing effects on the Jewish community.
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.