After 176 days of conflict, the fighting in Ukraine continues. According to the UN’s latest civilian casualty update, released this week, approximately 5500 civilians have been killed and 7700 injured, although both numbers are likely undercounts. As the war drags on, Jewish Federations and our partners continue to work together to ensure that urgent relief reaches the neediest, including both refugees who have fled, as well as those remaining in Ukraine.
(For pre-crisis background on the Jewish community in Ukraine, see here).
- Ukraine continues to attack military installations in Russia-occupied Crimea, despite apocalyptic warnings from Moscow last month that it would face “Judgment Day” for doing so. On Tuesday, a Russian ammunition depot exploded in the northeastern part of the Black Sea peninsula, less than a week after nine Russian jets were blown up at the Saki Air Force Base. Russia illegally took control of Crimea in 2014; Putin calls it a “sacred place” and “holy land” for his people. Three thousand people have been forced to evacuate. Kyiv has not publicly taken responsibility for the attacks.
- Russia used anti-ship missiles to destroy a number of buildings on the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa on Wednesday, injuring at least four people.
- A strike last weekend by Ukraine against an apartment block in Luhansk that was sheltering Russian private military contractors, known as Wagner, caused significant damage. The number of casualties has not been reported, but Ukrainian officials suggested that they numbered into the dozens.
- Energoatom, the Ukraine nuclear energy agency, is accusing Russia of staging a failed cyberattack on its website. Despite having repelled the hacking attempt, the state company that oversees the country’s nuclear facilities described it as “unprecedented.”. Meanwhile,artillery shells continue to fall on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant—which is the largest one in Europe--raising fears of radioactive contamination or even of a potential meltdown, which could render the land uninhabitable for decades. Tension ratcheted up on Thursday, when the Russian and Ukrainian militaries each accused each other of readying for an attack on the plant.
- Putin accused the US this week of prolonging the conflict in Ukraine and trying to extend NATO into Asia. “The NATO bloc is moving east, building up its military infrastructure, including deploying missile defense systems and increasing the strike capabilities of offensive forces,” he said. HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) appear to be helping Ukraine significantly to push back against Russian aggression.
- Despite the war, about 41% of Ukrainian schools have announced that they are ready to resume classes in September.
- Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk warned again this week that Jews who try to make their annual pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Ukraine will be risking their lives. He said that he has asked influential rabbis in Israel to discourage these religious tourists. “We wish for them to pray for Ukraine in Israel, in their own homes,” he told the Jerusalem Post, adding, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, “We hope their prayers will be strong enough to stop this war before Rosh Hashanah but we’re not sure it will happen.”
- Korniychuk also said, again according to the Jerusalem Post, that Ukraine’s request three months ago for a $500 million loan from Israel--to which he says no response has been received--still stands. He warned that there may not be enough resources to heat Ukrainian homes this winter, and that citizens of the country could freeze to death. And he called on Israeli businesses to close operations in Russia and stop “indirectly helping Russia kill Ukrainian women and children.”
REFUGEES, FEDERATIONS, AND PARTNERS ON THE GROUND
Jewish Federations continue to raise money for Ukraine relief efforts. Since the launch of the campaign in February, Jewish Federations have collectively raised 73 million and allocated 61 million to over 50 NGO’s on the ground.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) continues to help Jews in need across Ukraine and the region, supported by Federation emergency allocations.
Its updated figures show the range of different kinds of help that it has provided since the war began:
- Launched a centralized international emergency hotline that has fielded over 61,600 calls
- Evacuated more than 12,840 Jews from Ukraine, including 116 medical evacuations
- Provided accommodations to more than 20,000 seeking safety and shelter
- Provided 38,900 refugees with food, medicine, trauma support, and other essentials
- Delivered over 600 tons of humanitarian aid: food, medicine, etc.
- Prioritized most difficult homecare cases; some homecare workers are sleeping in clients' homes
Its five key priorities going forward are:
- Assistance to the most vulnerable Jews in Ukraine – elderly, children, and “new poor” adults
- Rebuilding Jewish communal programs and institutions in Ukraine
- Resettlement and integration of refugees in new Jewish communities
- Support for vulnerable Jews living in other FSU countries
- Non-sectarian assistance in Ukraine and Israel
OTHER UKRAINE NEWS
- The State Department will provide $89 million to help demining efforts in Ukraine. “Russia’s unlawful and unprovoked further invasion of Ukraine has littered massive swaths of the country with landmines, unexploded ordnance, and improvised explosive devices,” the State Department said in a statement, adding that such use of devices has been seen before only in Syria, as perpetrated by ISIS The funding will help set up 100 teams to defuse and dispose of unexploded ordnances that cover an area of 160,000 square kilometers (nearly 62,000 square miles), which is roughly the size of Virginia, Maryland, and Connecticut combined.
- As part of a project to “de-Russify” street names in the country, Israel Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky announced that a street in Kyiv will be renamed after Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of Israel, who was born in Kyiv but whose family fled pogroms and ended up resettling in Milwaukee. During the war, Meir’s words have appeared in pro-Ukrainian memes and been quoted by Ukrainian diplomats.
Jewish Federations continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine closely, and, working with our partners, are offering considerable relief efforts to those most in need.
For more information, please contact: Jewish Federations’s Dani Wassner.