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May 23, 2015 / 5 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Iran Scorns ‘Ridiculous’ US-led Anti-ISIS Coalition

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani scorned the international coalition organized by the United States to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in an interview with NBC News on Wednesday.

Rouhani called the mission “ridiculous” and said that without a commitment to send ground troops into battle against the rapidly spreading terrorist force, the project would fail.

“Are Americans afraid of giving casualties on the ground in Iraq?” he asked. “Are they afraid of their soldiers being killed in the fight they claim is against terrorism?”

That same day U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters in a briefing at MacDill Air Force Base, “American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission.”

Nor has the United States requested combat troops from any nation in the anti-ISIS coalition.

There is more than one complication in placing troops on the ground in such a conflict. Historically, Iran was suspected of targeting American troops during the previous Iraq War, although the Tehran government denied direct involvement in any battles.

But Rouhani commented that air strikes alone would not suffice to wipe out the Al Qaeda-spawned terrorist organization, which even Al Qaeda itself now denounces as “too extreme.” Other Muslims are hurrying to distance themselves from the group as well, declaring that ISIS has “nothing to do with Islam.”

“If they want to use planes and if they want to use unmanned planes so that nobody is injured from the Americans, is it really possible to fight terrorism without any hardship, without any sacrifice? Is it possible to reach a big goal without that? In all regional and international issues, the victorious one is the one who is ready to do sacrifice,” Rouhani told journalist Ann Curry.

Iran, meanwhile, has been directly involved in Syria’s civil war from the start, having sent its elite Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards force to supplement the troops of President Bashar al-Assad in the fight against opposition forces. Iran also recruited the aid of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist guerrilla fighters – which Tehran generously patronizes – to come to Assad’s assistance. Iran has long been a generous backer of the Syrian government as well; the two nations have done business for many years.

Rouhani told NBC News that any campaign to conduct air strikes against ISIS in Syria would require the permission of the Syrian government, which is supported by Iran and Russia. Any action in Syria without Assad’s permission, he said, would constitute a violation of international law and an act of aggression. Moscow has expressed similar views.

But the U.S. is unwilling to collaborate with Iran or Syria in a fight against ISIS. And nearly half the battle against the global terror group is rapidly moving over to Syria.

However, the U.S. House of Representatives has just voted 273-156 to back Obama’s request to train, equip and arm the “moderate” rebels in the Syrian opposition forces. The U.S. is hoping these rebel forces will fight against ISIS.

Russia and Egypt Agree to $3.5B Arms Deal

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Russia and Egypt have reached a preliminary agreement for a $3.5 billion arms deals, according to a Reuters report.

Russia and Egypt began discussing arms deals, when the US froze their arms deals with Egypt following the overthrow of Morsi.

No More Visas for Israelis to Belarus

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Israeli citizens will no longer be required to obtain a visa to enter Belarus, Israel’s ambassador to Belarus Yosef Shagall has announced.

The need for entrance visas to Belarus for Israelis will be cancelled as from 19 September this year, he said.

The decision, which came in an agreement between Foreign Ministry and the government of Belarus, during the opening ceremony of Limmud FSU (Former Soviet Union) in the Municipal Theater of Vitebsk which was attended by some 700 participants.

The event included representatives of the government of Belarus, the president of the Jewish community, Boris Gerstein and the founder of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler.

Chabad Rabbi Remains with Trapped Jews as Ukraine Troops, Rebels, and Russians Fight for Mariupol

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Jews in Mariupol, Ukraine are caught between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’ with nowhere to run as the winds of war whirl into their community. Chabad-Lubavitch emissary and rabbi of the city, Rabbi Mendel Cohen, has remained to serve his brethren in what has become one of the greatest challenges of his life.

Pro-Russian separatists, Russian tanks and Ukraine forces are all rapidly converging on the key southeastern port city to fight for control.

The nearby town of Novoazovsk reportedly has fallen to the rebels over the past 24 hours, according to a report by the BBC which quoted Russian TV. The Ukraine government told media that Russian forces have crossed the border in support of the rebel advance — a charge denied by Moscow.

The besieged cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, further north, have been embattled for months. The self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), where the city of the same name is located, has attempted to secede from Ukraine. DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko told Russian TV there were up to 4,000 Russian citizens within the ranks of the separatist rebel army, “former high-ranking military officers who have volunteered to join us. They are fighting with us, considering that to be their duty.

“There are also many in the current Russian military that prefer to spend their leave among us, brothers who are fighting for their freedom, rather than on a beach.”

“People are very worried right now,” Rabbi Cohen told Chabad.org. “There are lines at all of the gas stations and ATMs and people are stocking up on food, so there is nothing left in the stores. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Mariupol, the second-largest city in Donetsk, is only 35 miles from the Russian border and Russian is the primary language. In February, pro-Russian separatists seized the city’s administrative buildings and maintained control over the city for months.

Kiev sent troops and battled for control over the city in a fierce fight that ended at the city’s police station. At least six were killed in the offensive and it took until June 13 before the Ukraine government forces managed to secure total control over the city.

Rabbi Cohen described “armed men with masks right next to the shul,” saying it was “dangerous to walk around in the street” until June. Since then, however, “thank God it has become more stable.”

The sense of unease has returned, however.

Over the past month, more than 330,000 people have been displaced by combat in Donetsk to the north, and Lugansk to the east. Some 2,000 people have been killed so far, according to some estimates.

Many refugees have ended up in Mariupol. This week the sounds of shelling are much closer. Mariupol’s Jews so far insist on staying, fearing the dangers on the road to freedom more than the uncertainties facing them in their own homes. The Chabad emissary says he will stay as long as he can to aid the community.

“We have a minyan three times a day and Torah classes. Our day camp just ended, and we are now preparing for the school year,” Cohen said. The Jewish community has also worked to supply food packages to a growing number of people who need them.

Out of four emissaries serving southeastern Ukraine, Rabbi Cohen is the only one left. Three others were forced to re-evaluate their situations, along with the Jews of Donetsk, Lugansk and Maakeevka.

‘I hope and pray they will be able to return to their work very soon,” Rabbi Cohen said.

Ukraine Rebels Hold European Observers Hostage

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Separatist fighters in the eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk confirmed Thursday they are holding four missing observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as hostages.

The pro-Russian rebels also shot down a Ukrainian government military helicopter Thursday during heavy clashes around the city of Sloviansk – located in the northern part of the Donetsk province — killing 14 people. Among the dead was General Volodymyr Kulchitsky, the BBC reported. The rebels allegedly used a Russian-made anti-aircraft system.

There has been heavy fighting over the past several weeks in the area, located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Ukraine’s border with Russia.

According to reports by the Associated Press, residents in Sloviansk – a hotbed of separatist forces — have been regularly shelled with mortar fire by government forces. Civilian casualties have been high, and some residents are fleeing, according to the reports.

The Jewish Agency for Israel evacuated a couple with two twin baby girls from the city of Donetsk (capital of the province) and another couple from the city of Mariupol, south of Donetsk city, out of Ukraine in a rescue operation earlier this week. The six were already set for aliyah, but the decision to rescue them was made due to the fierce battle that started over the Donetsk airport between Ukraine’s army and pro-Russian militants. They traveled overland to the Kiev airport and then flew from there on to Israel.

Kharkov Moving Towards Secession?

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Less than a month after the eastern Ukrainian capital city’s Jewish mayor was shot in the back, the Kharkov region is set to hold a referendum on independence within the next week.

Kharkov residents were urged to go to the polls to vote on whether to join the secession of the southeastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, the Itar-Tass news site reported.

“Southeast” Coordinating Council of Movement spokesman Yuri Apukhtin made the announcement Sunday at a rally in the city’s Freedom Square. A number of demonstrators waved Russian national flags at the rally, including those from the Ukrainian Communist party and from “Borba” (Struggle).

“Our task is not to participate in Ukrainian presidential elections in any case,” the activist said from the podium. “We should meet on this square on May 25. We do not recognize these elections.”

Presidential elections are scheduled in Ukraine for May 25 although the original election date was to be held on March 29, 2015. The date was changed following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. A second and final runoff election will be held on June 15 if the first election is inconclusive, according to media reports. The elected candidate will serve a five-year term in office.

Apukhtin said that although he had been invited to attend a second all-Ukraine national unity roundtable meeting held in Kharkov on Saturday, he “refused to participate.”

Jewish communities around Ukraine are watching the secessionist movements closely, and contingency plans are being made in each area. For the most part, however, Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries say they are not leaving. All programs are continuing as planned thus far.

Meanwhile, Kharkov Mayor Gennady Kernes, 54, has been recovering in Israel since the beginning of the month from the critical wounds that nearly ended his life. Kernes suffered gunshot wounds to several vital organs, including the lungs and liver, during an assassination attempt in the wee hours of the morning several weeks ago.

Opposing his former Russian patrons, Kernes began to support Ukrainian nationalists in February following a coup in Kiev. He was shot while jogging prior to starting his work day.

Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz, Kharkov chief rabbi and Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, visits him regularly at the hospital where he is being treated in Haifa. The mayor has reportedly continued to carry out his duties with his staff in Kharkov to the best of his ability via telephone. However, due to his medical condition, doctors say it is unclear when he will be able to return to his office, although they are sure his condition will improve.

Ukraine’s Jewish Mayor of Kharkov Begins His Recovery in Israel

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Kharkov’s  Jewish Mayor Gennady Kernes is slowly overcoming near-fatal wounds and is on the road to recovery, Chabad-Lubavitch officials confirm.

While jogging in the wee hours of the morning last week, the Ukrainian official was shot by masked gunmen in an assassination attempt that nearly succeeded. His liver and lungs peppered with gunshot wounds, the critically wounded mayor was whisked away by medical airlift to Israel after emergency surgery in Kharkov. Following an initial stay at the private Elisha Hospital in Haifa, he was transferred to Rambam, where he underwent a second operation.

Mayor Kernes has now regained consciousness, and though still in very serious condition, he is recovering, officials said. “He woke up and he is speaking a little,” Chabad-Lubavitch emissary and Kharkov Chief Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz told Chabad.org . “G-d willing, I hope to visit him soon. Things are still delicate, but he’s getting better and we hope he gets out of it.”

He added that a Chabad emissary in Haifa has been a regular visitor at the mayor’s bedside.

The mayor has become a casualty of the violence that is rocking the country since pro-Russian separatists began disturbances weeks ago, with apparent encouragement from the Kremlin.

The city is located within the separatist province of Donetsk, which has declared itself to be an independent nation, the new “Republic of Donetsk.”

The Kremlin recently annexed Crimea, which seceded from eastern Ukraine last month. Russia now appears to have her eyes on Odessa, the third largest city in the country — located in western Ukraine — where dozens of people were killed in violence last week.

Jewish communities in Odessa have already made evacuation plans but have yet to carry them out; Jewish residents there and in Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city, appear to be holding their breath and waiting to see what happens this coming weekend.

The ninth of May marks the victory of the former Soviet Union over the Nazis in World War II. It is a day that is still celebrated in eastern bloc nations and Soviet veterans — and is expected to ignite more violence in Ukraine.

It is also likely to raise anti-Semitic levels to new heights as well.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ukraines-jewish-mayor-of-kharkov-begins-his-recovery-in-israel/2014/05/06/

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