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Archive for February 13, 2022

Newsline: Russia Says ‘Significant Progress’ Made in Iran Nuclear Talks

Russia’s top diplomat at the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna said world powers had made “significant progress” as their negotiations enter their final stage. In a tweet on Sunday, Mikhail Ulyanov, who’s representing Russia in the talks, said that assessments of the current situation — in which Iran and the U.S. remain in a tense standoff over how to restore the nuclear deal — were “positive.” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-13/russia-says-significant-progress-made-in-iran-nuclear-talks) The negotiations are aimed to revive a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement.

Newsline: Remaining U.S. diplomats in Ukraine to work from western city of Lviv

The U.S. embassy to Ukraine’s remaining diplomatic staff will work from the western city of Lviv, online newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda cited a U.S. diplomatic source as saying on Sunday, amid mounting fears of a possible Russian invasion. (https://news.yahoo.com/remaining-u-diplomats-ukraine-western-172843090.html) The U.S. embassy to Ukraine could not immediately be reached for comment. Washington said on Saturday it was ordering most staff at its embassy in Kyiv to leave Ukraine immediately due to the threat of an invasion by Russia. “This is a temporary decision, the embassy team will return to Kyiv as soon as the security situation allows,” Ukrainskaya Pravda’s source was quoted as saying. Moscow has denied that it plans to invade and has accused the West of hysteria.

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Newsline: U.S. top diplomat says Ukraine embassy drawdown prudent

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday the risk of Russian military action in Ukraine is high and imminent enough to justify the departure of much of the staff at U.S. embassy in Kyiv, which the State Department announced earlier. “We ordered the departure of most of the Americans still at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv. The risk of Russian military action is high enough and the threat is imminent enough that this is the prudent thing to do,” Blinken told a news conference in Honolulu. (https://news.yahoo.com/blinken-says-risk-russian-invasion-040151258.html) Most embassy staff were ordered to leave Ukraine immediately due to the threat of an invasion by Russia, with the department saying it appeared increasingly likely that the situation headed towards “some kind of active conflict.” This added to the State Department’s call earlier this week for private U.S. citizens to leave Ukraine immediately.

Newsline: Australia evacuates embassy in Kyiv

Australia said on Sunday it was evacuating its embassy in Kyiv as the situation on the Russia-Ukraine border deteriorated quickly. Australia’s embassy staff in Kyiv was directed to a temporary office in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine, around 70 kilometres (44 miles) from the border with Poland, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement. “We continue to advise Australians to leave Ukraine immediately by commercial means,” Payne said. (https://news.yahoo.com/australia-evacuates-embassy-kyiv-calls-000557364.html) The United States and Europe stepped up their warnings of an imminent attack by Russia on Ukraine, while the Kremlin, jostling for more influence in post-Cold War Europe, rejected a joint EU-NATO diplomatic response to its demands to reduce tensions as disrespectful.

Newsline: U.S. begins evacuation of Kyiv embassy

The U.S. began evacuating its embassy in Kyiv on Saturday as intelligence sources warn a Russian invasion could begin at any moment, Politico reports. Per Politico, the “State Department said Saturday that almost all of its 200 staff based in Kyiv will be required to leave” but that “embassy will keep a small number of ‘core’ diplomats in Kyiv and will maintain a small consular service in Lviv, which is further away from a potential conflict zone.” (https://news.yahoo.com/u-begins-evacuation-kyiv-embassy-191110110.html) President Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin for about an hour on Saturday. According to the official White House summary, Biden “reiterated that a further Russian invasion of Ukraine would produce widespread human suffering and diminish Russia’s standing” and said the U.S. “remains prepared to engage in diplomacy” but is “equally prepared for other scenarios.”

Newsline: Top US diplomat denies the Quad’s purpose is to counter a rising China

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected the notion that the informal “Quad” alliance of the US, Australia, India and Japan exists only to counter a rising and more assertive China. “This is not about standing against anyone in particular,” Blinken told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation when asked whether the group’s goal was to offset China’s influence in the region. “It is about standing up for a rules-based order, making sure that we uphold those rules and principles if they’re being challenged.” (https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3166607/top-us-diplomat-denies-quads-purpose-counter-rising-china) Blinken’s interview came in the middle of a multi-day trip across the Pacific, and ahead of a meeting among the four Quad foreign ministers. A senior US State Department official said last week it would likely discuss the “challenges that China poses” to democratic values in the region. Analysts and former officials say that Blinken’s remarks – including an apparent unwillingness to mention China by name while discussing the Quad’s goals – reflect the delicate balance that the Joe Biden administration has to strike when corralling allies and confronting another superpower.