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Archive for February 17, 2022

Newsline: Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine urges Americans to leave “now”

With President Biden warning on Thursday that Russia was “moving toward an imminent invasion” of Ukraine, CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata said the message to Americans in the country could not have been any clearer: Get out before hostilities start. “The situation could worsen very quickly, and we’re very worried about that and are urging all Americans to leave the country now,” Chargé d’Affaires Kristina Kvien, the most senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told D’Agata. Her call was made more urgent by satellite images appearing to show even more Russian forces, and a new pontoon bridge just a few miles from the border with Ukraine. (https://news.yahoo.com/top-u-diplomat-ukraine-urges-183623112.html) On Thursday, an American official told CBS News that not only were Russian troops moving out of assembly areas, closer to the Ukrainian border and into attack positions, but the Russian units remaining behind had begun fortifying their positions. On Monday, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv shut down and relocated a core team to an undisclosed location in the western city of Lviv, close to the border with Poland.

Newsline: White House says Russia’s expulsion of U.S. deputy ambassador ‘unprovoked’

Moscow’s expulsion of the U.S. deputy ambassador to Russia was “unprovoked,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday, while warning about the heightened potential of a Russian invasion into Ukraine. “Russia’s actions against our deputy chief of a mission, who was a key member of the embassy’s leadership team, was unprovoked,” Jean-Pierre said, speaking to reporters on Air Force One enroute to Ohio. “Now more than ever, it is critical that our countries have the necessary diplomatic personnel in place to facilitate communication between our governments.” (https://news.yahoo.com/russia-expulsion-u-deputy-ambassador-161002780.html) Secretary of State Antony Blinken will signal the U.S.’s “intense commitment to diplomacy” in remarks at the United Nations later on Thursday, Jean-Pierre said. Russia has expelled deputy U.S. ambassador Bartle Gorman from the country, the U.S. State Department said Thursday.

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Newsline: U.S. Ambassador receives Russia’s response to security proposals

The United States received Russia’s response to Washington’s security proposals on Thursday when it was delivered to U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan in Moscow, a senior U.S. State Department official said. (https://news.yahoo.com/u-receives-russias-response-security-141832361.html) The official did not elaborate. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier Moscow’s reply on the issue of security guarantees would come on Thursday, the TASS news agency reported. Sullivan visited the foreign ministry building and left shortly afterwards without talking to the press, TASS reported.

Newsline: Russia expels deputy U.S. ambassador, Washington to respond

Russia has expelled deputy U.S. ambassador Bartle Gorman and Washington will respond to the move, the RIA news agency cited the U.S. embassy in Moscow as saying on Thursday. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/russia-expels-deputy-u-ambassador-134259229.html) It was not immediately clear what justification Moscow gave for the expulsion.

Newsline: Asian Diplomats Say New Zealand Won’t Engage Myanmar

Two Asian diplomats told The Associated Press that New Zealand notified other members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes China but not the United States, that it would not recognize Myanmar’s “instrument of ratification” — the key document binding a country to the free trade pact — because it opposes its military-led government. It’s not immediately clear if New Zealand’s action would lead to Myanmar’s exclusion from RCEP. Asked by the AP for comment, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said “New Zealand has maintained a principled stance on Myanmar, and this includes our position that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership does not apply between New Zealand and Myanmar at this time.” “New Zealand remains gravely concerned at the situation in Myanmar and continues to call for the immediate cessation of violence and for the release of all those arbitrarily detained by the military regime,” the spokesperson said. (https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2022-02-17/new-zealand-wont-engage-myanmar-in-largest-free-trade-bloc) One of the two diplomats who spoke with the AP said ASEAN member states were individually assessing New Zealand’s action and may announce their position soon. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity due to a lack of authorization to discuss the issue publicly.ASEAN foreign ministers were meeting in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh on Thursday to discuss regional issues, including Myanmar. It’s unclear if New Zealand’s move against Myanmar would be raised, but the diplomat described the issue as “a big problem.” The punitive action underscores the growing fallout from the Myanmar crisis into the economic and diplomatic spheres. It remains unclear if other leading countries included in the RCEP, such as Japan, Australia and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which have also expressed alarm over Myanmar, would follow suit.

Newsline: Russian embassy uses China’s social media to lash out at UK

China’s social media platform Weibo has become the latest arena for dialogue between Britain and Russia over Ukraine. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson used his Chinese social media account to urge Russian President Vladimir Putin to think again about invading Ukraine. “We are on the edge of a cliff, but President Putin still has time to step back and think,” Johnson said in a Chinese-language post on Tuesday night. “We urge everyone to engage in dialogue – the Russian government should avoid making decisions that would be disastrously wrong for their country.” The Russian embassy in China responded to Johnson on Wednesday afternoon – via Weibo – calling the statement “absurd”. “This statement is designed to further inflame the hysteria surrounding the so-called imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine and is absurd,” it said. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/chinas-weibo-front-uk-russia-093000731.html) “The continued military development in Ukraine supported by Nato countries through the supply of large amount of weapons to the country is an example of the escalation of the situation.” Johnson’s message had received 1.1 million likes by noon on Wednesday. However, Weibo users did not appear to share the British leader’s concerns.

Newsline: UK Covid diplomat took his own life

A diplomat who vanished while working for the government’s Covid taskforce took his own life, an inquest has found. A coroner concluded that Mr Morris had taken his own life after suffering stress working for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and amid worries about his future. Senior coroner Christopher Wilkinson said: “Richard Morris took his own life while suffering severe and acute stress.” (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-60391309) The body of Richard Morris was discovered in a forest near to his home in Bentley, Hampshire, in August 2020. The 52-year-old former ambassador to Nepal was last seen running in the area on 6 May 2020. The inquest in Winchester heard he was under “severe stress” prior to his death. Mr Morris had worked long hours under high-pressure, helping co-ordinate briefings to ministers at a time when the UK was battling the fierce first wave of coronavirus, the inquest heard.