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Archive for February 11, 2022

Newsline: Israel Evacuating Relatives of Embassy Staff in Ukraine

Israel said on Friday it was evacuating relatives of staff at its embassy in Kyiv, citing “an aggravation of the situation” in an apparent reference to the crisis between Ukraine and Russia. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-02-11/israel-evacuating-relatives-of-embassy-staff-in-ukraine) The Foreign Ministry statement further urged Israelis to avoid travelling to Ukraine and those there to “to avoid areas of tension”.

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Newsline: U.S. and Allies Speak By Phone Friday in a Flurry of Diplomacy

Western leaders hold a joint call on Friday on Russia’s military buildup, according to statements from the U.S. and others confirming a Bloomberg report. Alongside the so-called NATO Quint group — U.S., Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. — the leaders of Poland, Romania, Canada and the EU take part. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/russia-mulls-way-recognize-donbas-074913835.html) The Quint group has convened numerous times in recent weeks at different levels to coordinate on talks with the Kremlin and discuss a potential package of sanctions in the event Russia attacked Ukraine. The call also follows a flurry of diplomacy this week including a visit to both Russia and Ukraine by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Newsline: Hawaii woman gets 90 days in jail in US embassy documents case

A Honolulu woman who pleaded guilty to taking classified documents while working at the U.S. Embassy in Manila was sentenced to 90 days in jail. Asia Janay Lavarello pleaded guilty last year to one count of knowingly removing classified information, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. She removed “certain classified documents” from the embassy before hosting a dinner party in her hotel room, with guests including three American co-workers and two foreign nationals, her plea agreement said. One of the Americans discovered documents marked “secret” in her bedroom during the party, according to the agreement filed in court. Lavarello was a Department of Defense civilian employee working as the executive assistant to the Commander for the United States Indo-Pacific Command Joint Intelligence Operation Center, where she maintained top secret security clearance, court documents said. (https://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Hawaii-woman-gets-90-days-in-jail-in-embassy-16849594.php) In 2020, she took a six-month temporary duty assignment in the Philippines. She was also a student at National Intelligence University, according to her plea agreement. Her attorney, Birney Bervar, said Lavarello apologizes and takes responsibility. He said she wasn’t planning to do anything malicious with the documents, which he described as theses by other people that she was using as models for her own.

Newsline: U.S. top diplomat says Russian invasion of Ukraine could come at any time

Russia has sent more forces to its border with Ukraine and could launch an invasion at any time, including during the Beijing Winter Olympics, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday. He said Washington was continuing to “draw down” its embassy in Ukraine and repeated a State Department call to American citizens in Ukraine to leave the country immediately. “Simply put, we continue to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border,” Blinken told a news conference in the Australian city of Melbourne. “As we’ve said before, we’re in a window when an invasion could begin at any time, and to be clear, that includes during the Olympics.” (https://news.yahoo.com/russian-invasion-ukraine-could-come-090411702.html) Russia, which has more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, denies Western accusations it may be planning to invade its former Soviet neighbour. The Winter Olympics are being hosted by Beijing until Feb. 20. At the opening day of the Winter Olympics last week, China and Russia declared a “no limits” partnership, backing each other over standoffs on Ukraine and Taiwan with a promise to collaborate more against the West. Beijing supported Russia’s demand that Ukraine should not be admitted into NATO, as the Kremlin amasses 100,000 troops near its neighbour, while Moscow opposed any form of independence for Taiwan, as global powers jostle over their spheres of influence.

Newsline: Australia is not going to rename Taiwan’s mission

Australia is not looking at renaming Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the country and remains committed to its one-China policy, foreign minister Marise Payne said, amid strain in diplomatic ties with Beijing. Payne said she had not held any talks with Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China claims as its own, about the possibility of changing the name of its representative office in Australia. “No discussions of that nature,” Payne told a news briefing held in the capital of Canberra with visiting Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis. “Australia remains committed to our one-China policy.” (https://www.reuters.com/world/china/australia-says-it-is-not-looking-rename-taiwans-de-facto-embassy-2022-02-09/) The comments came as China downgraded ties with Lithuania and pressed multinationals to sever links with the Baltic state after the island opened a Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius last year, avoiding use of the more common term, Taipei.

Newsline: Ex-Bangladeshi diplomat nabbed in Malaysia

A former Bangladeshi diplomat who has been living in Malaysia as a refugee in the past decade was nabbed by the police in Ampang. “The police arrested Mohamed Khairuzzaman,” former Bangladeshi diplomat, the police said. (https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/610197) International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has raised concern that he could be expelled from the country and face persecution back home.