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Archive for February 18, 2022

Newsline: Serbian ambassador to Portugal dies after falling off cliff

Serbia’s ambassador to Portugal died after falling off a cliff in the beach town of Cascais near Lisbon on Friday, the local fire brigade said. A fire brigade spokesman would not comment on the circumstances that led to the fall, telling Reuters that emergency services rushed to the scene around 1.30 p.m. (1330 GMT) and found Oliver Antic, 72, alive but badly hurt. Paramedics tried to save him but he died shortly after the rescue, the spokesman said. (https://news.yahoo.com/serbian-ambassador-portugal-dies-falling-161336737.html) Born in Belgrade, Antic studied law and started working as a university professor in 1975. Among other things, he had worked as an adviser to Serbia’s president.

Newsline: Ukraine Summons Israeli Ambassador

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has summoned Israel’s ambassador to Kyiv to demand an explanation, following Israeli media reports that Jerusalem requested Moscow’s assistance in evacuating its citizens from Ukraine in case of war. Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky attended the meeting at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on Thursday, where according to Jerusalem he explained that Israel had two goals in the conversation with Russian officials: To urge deescalation and to express concern for Israeli diplomats and citizens. According to a source, the ministry was upset by a report on the Walla news site that Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz spoke with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov with a request to establish humanitarian corridors for the safe exit of Israeli citizens and diplomats. “You are treating us like what? The Gaza Strip or something? It’s just nonsense,” the source told Haaretz. “The ambassador will be called to the ministry to give an explanation.” (https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/you-re-treating-us-like-gaza-furious-ukraine-summons-israeli-ambassador-1.10618462) Israel is currently attempting to balance its relations with both Russia and Ukraine. Israel’s Foreign Ministry declared a state of emergency on Saturday and urged the estimated 15,000 Israelis in Ukraine to leave as soon as possible, adding that it also anticipated an increase in immigration requests from the local Jewish community.

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Newsline: Russia says deputy chief of mission at US embassy was expelled in response to “provocation,” US accuses Russia of ‘escalatory’ move

Moscow expelled US Deputy Chief of Mission to Russia Bart Gorman in response to a provocation, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday. “As for the expulsion of the US diplomat, it was a retaliatory measure, and once again, it cannot be a measure that is an action that provokes something. It was a response to a provocation,” he clarified. (https://tass.com/politics/1405929) Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that Gorman had been told to leave Russia in response to the unjustified expulsion of a minister counselor at the Russian Embassy in Washington DC. The United States accused Russia of having expelled the second-most senior diplomat at the US embassy in Moscow without any justification, calling it an “escalatory” move at a time of heightened alert over the Ukraine crisis. US Deputy Chief of Mission in Moscow Bart Gorman, who is second only to the ambassador at the embassy, was expelled by Russia earlier this year and given two weeks to depart the country, according to a senior US State Department official. Gorman left Russia last week and has returned to the United States, the official said. A US State Department spokesperson on Thursday confirmed Russia had expelled Gorman and said the action was “unprovoked.” “We consider this an escalatory step and are considering our response,” the spokesperson said. (https://edition.cnn.com/2022/02/17/politics/russia-expels-deputy-us-official/index.html) Russia has continually forced the US to reduce the size of its diplomatic footprint in the country in recent years. Gorman had been in Russia fewer three years with a valid visa and his tour had not ended, the spokesperson said, also noting that Gorman is a key member of the embassy’s senior leadership team.

Newsline: State Department’s virtual Iran embassy uses Kamala Harris quote to slam US

The Biden administration’s Virtual Embassy for Iran used a quote by Vice President Kamala Harris translated into Farsi to castigate the US this week for xenophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination. “The truth is: there is racial discrimination in America,” read the translated social media post. “There is xenophobia in America. Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, all exist. Tackling injustice wherever it is, activity is ahead.” The State Department posted an English-language version of the tweet on Jan. 17 to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “.@VP on injustice,” the post began before quoting Harris. “‘Here’s the truth: Racism exists in America. Xenophobia exists in America. Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, it all exists. The work to address injustice wherever it exists remains the work ahead.’” (https://nypost.com/2022/02/17/joe-bidens-virtual-iran-embassy-uses-kamala-harris-quote-to-slam-us/) A White House official confirmed to The Post that the quote is taken from remarks Harris made this past May at a ceremony for President Biden signing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. It is unclear why the State Department and virtual Iran embassy accounts posted the quote approximately nine months after the bill signing. The White House official told The Post no direction was given to post the Harris statement. Critics lambasted the post — with several directing their ire at Harris, despite the tweet not coming from her own account.

Newsline: The United States is moving Ukraine embassy stores to the border with Poland

Due to the tense situation in the Ukraine conflict, the United States is moving the business of its embassy from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev to the city of Lviv (Limberg) near the border with Poland. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said this was a temporary precaution. The US Embassy will continue to work with the Ukrainian government. “We are also continuing our intensive diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the crisis,” he added. In no way will the “precautionary measures” undermine US support for Ukraine. Our commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine is unwavering.” (https://www.thewestonforum.com/the-united-states-is-moving-embassy-stores-to-the-border-with-poland/) The US State Department had already said that the number of embassy staff in Kiev would be reduced “to the absolute minimum”. A small number of employees will be transferred to Lviv in the west of the country. In the city near the Polish border, consular services will still be offered for emergencies. The US State Department had already ordered the diplomats’ families to leave the US embassy in Kiev at the end of January. It was also said at the time that employees who were not immediately needed could leave the country voluntarily.