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Archive for February, 2022

Newsline: Bulgaria Evacuates Consular Staff From Ukraine’s Odessa

Bulgaria has evacuated the staff of its consular mission in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, the foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday. “The staff of the Odessa consulate… have already left Ukraine and crossed into Moldova,” the spokesman told Reuters. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-02-28/bulgaria-evacuates-consular-staff-from-ukraines-odessa) Bulgaria is keeping its Kyiv embassy open for the time being as it has yet to evacuate about 140 Bulgarians from there.

Newsline: Vatican’s top diplomat offers mediation to end ‘war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine’

Pope Francis’s top diplomat on Monday confirmed what many suspected: The Vatican is ready to “facilitate dialogue” between Russia and Ukraine to “avoid any escalation, stop the clashes and negotiate” amidst what he called “a military attack.” “Above all, the military attack must stop immediately. We are all witnesses to its tragic consequences,” Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, told a handful of Italian newspapers. He said the Vatican believes that “despite the war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine” there is “always room for negotiations.” (https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2022/02/vaticans-top-diplomat-offers-mediation-to-end-war-unleased-by-russia-against-ukraine) Parolin also said that the possibility of the conflict that began when Russia attacked Ukraine spreading to other European countries would be a “gigantic catastrophe,” the prospect of which makes one “shudder,” and an outcome “that unfortunately,” cannot “be completely excluded.”

Newsline: Diplomats reconvene in Vienna for Iran nuclear talks

Diplomats from Iran and world powers reconvened in Vienna on Monday to seek a deal reviving Tehran’s 2015 nuclear accord, with pressure mounting for results soon. (https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/diplomats-reconvene-vienna-iran-nuclear-talks-83156731) Among them was Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, who returned to Vienna after consultations with his government in Teheran over the weekend. The other parties to the agreement are Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. The United States has participated indirectly in the talks because it withdrew from the accord in 2018 under then President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden has signaled that he wants to rejoin the deal. The accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Officials say that the talks are reaching their final stage, though it’s unclear how long that might take. The negotiations have dragged on for months, punctuated by a long gap last year caused by the arrival of a hard-line new government in Iran.

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Newsline: U.S. shutters embassy in Belarus, OKs evacuation from embassy in Moscow

The United States on Monday shuttered its embassy in Minsk and allowed non-emergency employees and family members to depart from its embassy in Moscow as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued in the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two. “We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/1-u-shutters-embassy-belarus-135843825.html) A photo posted on Twitter by U.S ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher on Monday showed mission staff lowering the American flag. All American staff have departed Belarus, Fisher tweeted. The U.S. relocated its Ukraine embassy operations from the capital Kyiv to the western city of Lviv two weeks ago as Russian forces amassed at Ukraine’s borders. The U.S. government over the weekend urged citizens to consider leaving Russia immediately on commercial flights amid the increasing flight cancellations.

Newsline: Russia calls in Canadian envoy over protests outside its embassy

Russia threatened Canada on Monday with retaliation if it failed to ensure the safety of its diplomats and complained over what it said were hostile protests outside its embassy in Ottawa and two other consulates. (https://news.yahoo.com/russia-calls-canadian-envoy-complains-131138637.html) In a statement, Russia’s foreign ministry said it had called in Canada’s ambassador to Moscow to lodge a formal protest.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Ukraine says departing the country may take up to 30 hours

The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine is now urging U.S citizens in Ukraine to try leaving using private transportation options as leaving could in some cases take more than 30 hours. The embassy said Sunday “conditions may deteriorate” in various parts of the country without any warning due to the escalating Russian invasion. “Careful consideration should be made to routes and the risks of travel because Ukraine’s roads are in many cases crowded, exposed to combat operations, and infrastructure such as bridges in some locations have been destroyed. Sheltering in place may remain the best option for some,” the embassy said on its website. (https://news.yahoo.com/russian-troops-enter-second-largest-080130265.html) Furthermore, embassy officials say that border crossings into neighboring Poland and all main crossing points into Moldova are overwhelmed. “Some are experiencing extremely long wait times (well over 30 hours in some cases),” the embassy said. “We recommend that, if possible, U.S. citizens consider redirecting to border crossings with Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, which are currently experiencing lower wait times to cross.” Embassy officials also offered a series of tips including bringing enough food, water and warm clothing. They also urge citizens to carry hard copies of important documents as the U.S. government will not be able to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine.

Newsline: Chinese embassy tells its citizens in Ukraine not to display ‘identifying symbols’

The Chinese embassy in Ukraine asked citizens in the country to not highlight their identities in public. The recommendation comes two days after the embassy advised Chinese nationals to display their national flag when driving. In a WeChat post, the embassy said that there’s an uptick in “extreme behavior” in Ukraine that constitutes heightened security risks for Chinese citizens. “Don’t highlight your identity or display identifying symbols,” the embassy recommended in the post, addressing Chinese nationals. (https://news.yahoo.com/china-tells-citizens-ukraine-not-074831130.html) China has sought to walk a fine line in its approach to the invasion, even as Russia, its close ally, comes under increasing pressure from the west.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy Warns Americans in Russia to Consider Leaving ‘Immediately’

The U.S. Embassy in Russia has warned Americans to consider leaving the country promptly amid the Ukraine invasion. On Sunday, the embassy issued a security alert on its website to inform U.S. nationals of the limited number flights arriving to and departing from Russia. “An increasing number of airlines are canceling flights into and out of Russia, and numerous countries have closed their airspace to Russian airlines,” the embassy said in the advisory. “U.S. citizens should consider departing Russia immediately via commercial options still available.” “The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that the Department of State’s Travel Advisory level for Russia is at ‘Level 4: Do Not Travel,'” the statement added. Further explanation on the level 4 travel advisory stated, “Do not travel to Russia due to ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.” (https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/u-embassy-warns-americans-russia-232925341.html) The embassy also provided suggestions for U.S. nationals based in Russia amid the ongoing crisis, including staying alert in locations frequented by tourists and Westerners, notifying friends and family of your safety and carrying proper identification.

Newsline: The U.S. ambassador to U.N. condemns increased readiness of Russia’s nuclear weapons

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations responded to the news from Moscow while appearing on a Sunday news program. “President Putin is continuing to escalate this war in a manner that is totally unacceptable,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said. “And we have to continue to condemn his actions in the most strong, strongest possible way.” (https://ktla.com/news/nationworld/ukraine-russia-diplomats-to-meet-on-belarus-border-as-troops-draw-closer-to-kyiv/) In a dramatic escalation of East-West tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian nuclear forces put on high alert Sunday in response to what he called “aggressive statements” by leading NATO powers. Speaking at a meeting with his top officials, Putin directed the Russian defense minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in a “special regime of combat duty.” “Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country,” Putin said in televised comments. The order means Putin has ordered Russia’s nuclear weapons prepared for increased readiness to launch, raising the threat that the tensions could boil over into nuclear warfare. In giving it, the Russian leader also cited hard-hitting financial sanctions imposed by the West against Russia, including Putin himself. The Russian leader this week threatened to retaliate harshly against any nations that intervened directly in the conflict in Ukraine, and he specifically raised the specter of his country’s status as a nuclear power.