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Archive for February 12, 2022

Newsline: Germany closes consulate in eastern Ukraine

Germany has closed its diplomatic post in eastern Ukraine because a military conflict between Russia and Ukraine cannot be ruled out, the foreign ministry said. German citizens in Ukraine are urged to leave as soon as possible. “Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have continued to rise in recent days amid the massive presence and movements of Russian military units near Ukraine’s borders,” Germany’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday. “A military conflict cannot be ruled out.” “We will keep our embassy in Kyiv open but will reduce the diplomatic staff deployed there,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement, adding that the Consulate General in Dnipro would be closed with immediate effect. (https://bnonews.com/index.php/2022/02/germany-closes-consulate-in-eastern-ukraine/) Germany’s Consulate General in Donetsk was relocated to Dnipro when conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Baerbock said Germany will move staff from the consulate to the city of Lviv in western Ukraine, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) from the border with Poland. Several countries – including the U.S. and the Netherlands – have chosen Lviv as a temporary base for emergency operations.

Newsline: EU urges non-essential diplomats to leave Ukraine

The European Union’s envoy to Ukraine has urged non-essential staff at its embassy in Kyiv to leave amid heightening tension with Russia. The EU ambassador, Matti Maasikas, sent a message to staff on Friday (11 February), encouraging the international personnel to leave as soon as possible. “Having exchanged with the headquarters in Brussels, I have urged all expat colleagues with the exception of the essential staff … to leave Ukraine ASAP to telework from outside the country,” the email read, according to EUobserver’s sources. “I feel very sad,” Maasikas wrote. A spokesman for the EU’s foreign service, Peter Stano, said the message to staff in Kyiv did not amount to an evacuation. “We are not evacuating. For the time being, the non-essential staff has been given the opportunity to telework from outside the country,” Stano told EUobserver on Friday. (https://euobserver.com/world/154352) US president Joe Biden earlier the same day urged US nationals to leave Ukraine due to the risk of conflict. Australia, Canada, Israel, and the US have already pulled out non-essential diplomats — but the EU had kept its delegation in place in a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

Newsline: Russia’s Top Diplomat Accuses U.S. of Running ‘Propaganda Campaign’

Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Washington is leading a “propaganda campaign” against Moscow. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/lavrov-blinken-talks-kyiv-embassy-082132075.html) Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will speak on Saturday as part of a new flurry of diplomatic efforts. Russia has repeatedly denied it plans an invasion, as the U.S. and its NATO allies warn a buildup of almost 130,000 Russian troops near the Ukrainian border may be preparation to do so, including via Belarus from the north. The U.S. assessment helped push crude oil prices to their highest since 2014 while U.S. stocks faltered. More countries advised their citizens to leave Ukraine, while Russia said it’s “optimizing” staff at its Ukrainian missions.

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Newsline: US to reopen Solomon Islands embassy after 29 years

The United States plans to re-establish an embassy in the Solomon Islands, a senior State Department official said Saturday, as Washington seeks to beef up its presence in a region where China is rapidly expanding its influence. (https://news.yahoo.com/us-reopen-solomon-islands-embassy-030421111.html) Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to announce the opening of a new embassy on the Pacific island state during a visit to nearby Fiji — 29 years after the United States downgraded its diplomatic presence in Honiara. The move comes just a few months after riots in the island chain of 800,000 people in November when protesters tried to storm parliament and then went on a three-day rampage, torching much of the capital Honiara’s Chinatown. The United States closed its embassy in the Solomons Island capital in 1993 and is now represented by a consulate there, with an embassy in the Papua New Guinea capital of Port Moresby.

Newsline: U.S. Orders Most Embassy Staff Out of Ukraine

The U.S. said intelligence indicates Russia may attack Ukraine before the Beijing Winter Olympics end on Feb. 20. Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will speak on Saturday, as will the countries’ top diplomats. The U.S. State Department has ordered “non-emergency U.S. employees” at the embassy in Kyiv to depart, and consular services at the embassy will be suspended as of Sunday. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/lavrov-blinken-talks-kyiv-embassy-082132075.html) A small consular presence will continue in Lviv, in far western Ukraine, to handle emergences. Saturday’s order covers most direct-hire U.S. employees. Some countries are advising their citizens to leave Ukraine. Russia says it’s “optimizing” staff at its Ukrainian missions.

Newsline: South Korean diplomat has his nose broken by ‘unprovoked’ punch in New York

A South Korean diplomat was punched in the face in Midtown Manhattan in New York City on Wednesday evening in what police are calling an “unprovoked” attack. The diplomat, whose name has been withheld, was assaulted around 8:10 p.m. near West 35th Street and 5th Avenue, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD). “Upon arrival, officers observed a 52-year-old male, with pain and swelling to his face,” police told NextShark in a statement. “Further investigation revealed an unknown adult male approached the victim at the location, and punched him in the face, before fleeing on foot towards 6 Avenue.” “The incident was unprovoked,” police added. “EMS responded to the location and transported the victim to NYU Hospital, in stable condition with complaint of pain. There is no arrest and the investigation remains ongoing.” (https://news.yahoo.com/south-korean-diplomat-nose-broken-231237058.html) ABC7 New York reported that the attack is currently not being investigated as a hate crime.