Appeal for Jews to leave Russia while they can

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Moscow’s exiled chief rabbi says Jews should leave Russia while they still can, before they are made scapegoats for the hardship caused by the war in Ukraine.

 Pinchas Goldschmidt told the Guardian: “When we look back over Russian history, whenever the political system was in danger you saw the government trying to redirect the anger and discontent of the masses towards the Jewish community … We’re seeing rising antisemitism while Russia is going back to a new kind of Soviet Union.”

Goldschmidt resigned from his post and left Russia in July after refusing to back Putin’s war.

Russia’s Jews have been emigrating in their tens of thousands during the past 100 years, first to Europe and the Americas and more recently to Israel. According to the 1926 census there were 2,672,000 Jews in the then Soviet Union, 59% of them in Ukraine. Today only about 165,000 Jews remain in the Russian Federation out of a total population of 145 million.

In Other Developments:

* Russia shelled Ukrainian towns across a long stretch of the frontline from north to south, Ukrainian officials said on Friday, a day after Moscow fired dozens of missiles in its latest barrage against critical infrastructure.

FIGHTING

* Ukrainian forces are holding their positions against Russian troops in the eastern Donbas region and making small advances in some areas, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

* Ukraine’s military General Staff said Russian forces had tried to advance near Bakhmut and Avdiivka, focal points of their slow-moving campaign to take all of Donetsk, which together with neighbouring Luhansk make up the Donbas.

* The General Staff said Russian forces had also shelled towns near Kupiansk in the northeast Kharkiv region, settlements in Luhansk region, and in the south areas of Zaporizhzhia region and the city of Kherson, which Ukraine recaptured last month.

* Russia launched 16 “kamikaze” drones into Ukraine overnight into Friday, Kyiv’s military said after the 2 a.m. air raid alert. All 16 had been shot down by air defences, it said.

* Russia’s Defence Ministry on Friday described a barrage of missiles it fired on Thursday as a “massive strike” against Ukraine’s energy and military-industrial infrastructure using high-precision weapons.

DIPLOMACY

* In a video conference call, Russian President Vladimir Putin told China’s Xi Jinping that he aimed to deepen military cooperation with Beijing and that he expected the Chinese president to visit Russia in spring 2023.

* Xi told Putin the road to peace talks on Ukraine would not be smooth and China would continue to uphold its “objective and fair stance” on the issue, Chinese state media said. Their readout did not mention a state visit or military cooperation.

* NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on NATO member states to supply more weapons to Ukraine, according to an interview.

* The secretary of Belarus’ Security Council said it was “unlikely” that a Ukrainian air defence missile downed on Thursday had entered Belarusian airspace by accident.

ECONOMY

* The rouble soared in its final session of a volatile year on Friday, but remained on course for hefty losses in December, after fears over the impact of a Western oil price cap on Russia’s export revenues dominated this month’s trading.

* Foreign investors from “unfriendly” countries selling stakes in Russian assets may have to do so at half-price or less, the finance ministry said, with the Russian budget potentially taking a 10% cut of any transaction.

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