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Archive for February 20, 2022

Newsline: US embassy tells Americans in Russia to “have evacuation plans”

The US embassy in Russia has warned Americans in the country “avoid crowds” and “have evacuation plans” to leave Russia, citing media reports of “threats of attacks.” A security alert posted on the embassy’s website on Sunday read: “According to media sources, there have been threats of attacks against shopping centers, railway and metro stations, and other public gathering places in major urban areas, including Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as in areas of heightened tension along the Russian border with Ukraine.” (https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2022/feb/20/ukraine-crisis-russia-plans-biggest-war-since-1945-says-johnson-zelenskiy-calls-for-sanctions-now-live) The advice marks a further deterioration of US-Russia relations in what some observers are already calling a new Cold War.

Newsline: Russian ambassador denies accusations of invasion plans

Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov on Sunday denied accusations from Western governments that Moscow is planning to invade Ukraine as tensions increase in the region. “There is no invasion. There is no such plans,” Antonov said while appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Russia has publicly … declared its readiness to continue the diplomatic efforts to resolve all outstanding issues,” Antonov added. “Russian troops are on sovereign Russian territory. We don’t threaten anyone.” (https://news.yahoo.com/russian-ambassador-denies-accusations-invasion-164850837.html) Host Margaret Brennan pushed back against Antonov’s characterization of Russia’s military actions, pointing out that there are thousands of Russian troops along Ukraine borders with Belarus and Moldova as well as Ukrainian separatists backed by Moscow. Antonov shot back that the U.S. has “so many military bases” around the world and Russia has significantly fewer. He argued that Russia’s military actions are not violating any legally binding norms. Antonov further stated that Donbass, the eastern Ukrainian region occupied by Russia-backed separatists, is Ukraine’s territory.

Newsline: US ambassador says it would be ‘disastrous’ for Russia to invade Ukraine

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Kristina Kvien on Sunday said a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be “disastrous,” pointing to potential casualties on both sides and “devastating sanctions” on Moscow. “Ultimately, President Putin has to decide not to take a path that will be disastrous,” Kvien said, referring to the Russian leader, during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” (https://news.yahoo.com/us-ambassador-says-disastrous-russia-155425927.html) She emphasized that the two sides would experience repercussions from a Russian invasion, adding that both countries would see casualties and Moscow would face “devastating sanctions” from the U.S. and allied nations. “Disastrous for Ukraine, of course, with the potential for thousands of casualties, but also disastrous for Russia, not only because Ukraine will fight and Russia will face casualties too, but also because Russia will face devastating sanctions by the United States and other partners and allies if they take this path,” she said.

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Newsline: Russian diplomat says US and British intelligence can not be trusted

A Russian diplomat on Sunday said Moscow does not trust “U.S. and British intelligence” while repeating Russia’s claim that it has no plans to invade Ukraine. Sky News host Trevor Phillips asked Deputy Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Dmitry Polyanskiy why the Kremlin has amassed 150,000 troops at the Ukrainian border if Moscow does not plan to invade its neighbor. “First of all, who counted them? Where do you take this figure 150,000? I remember it was 100,000, then it was 120,000, now it is 150,000, some people say 190,000,” Polyanskiy said. Phillips pushed back on Polyanskiy’s remarks, citing satellite imagery from Western governments showing an increase in Russia’s military presence at the border. “We don’t trust the U.S. and British intelligence, they let us down, the whole world, on many occasions. Enough to remember the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” Polyanskiy replied. (https://news.yahoo.com/russian-diplomat-dont-trust-us-133538269.html) The diplomat repeated Moscow’s frequent argument that it is allowed to place its troops wherever it wishes within its own borders. Phillips asked if Moscow would have the same “relaxed” attitude if Ukraine similarly amassed a military presence along its border with Russia.

Newsline: Iran’s Top Diplomat Says Ready for Immediate Prisoner Swap With U.S.

Iran is ready to swap prisoners with the United States, Iran’s foreign minister said in Germany on Saturday, adding the West would be to blame if talks to revive a 2015 nuclear deal fail as Tehran is ready to reach a good agreement. “We believe prisoner swaps is a humanitarian issue … unrelated to the nuclear accord. We can do it immediately,” Hossein Amirabdollahian told a panel at the Munich Security Conference. “If the nuclear talks between Tehran and world powers fail in Vienna, Western powers will be responsible for it because we want a good deal.” (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-02-19/irans-top-diplomat-says-ready-for-immediate-prisoner-swap-with-u-s) When asked whether Tehran was ready to hold direct talks with Washington, Amirabdollahian refrained from ruling it out by saying: “We need to see tangible steps of goodwill by Washington such as freeing Iran’s frozen assets abroad”.

Newsline: U.S. embassy in Ukraine accuses Russia is “propagating violence”

The U.S. embassy in Ukraine said Saturday that Russia is “propagating violence in territory they control and attempting to blame Ukraine.” “The world is united in its condemnation of Russia’s cynical and transparent provocations. We all know who the aggressor is – Russia,” the embassy wrote in a tweet on Saturday. (https://news.yahoo.com/u-embassy-ukraine-says-russia-190720422.html) There were more than 1,500 ceasefire violations in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Friday, which is a massive uptick, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s monitoring mission in Ukraine.

Newsline: Chinese embassy urges Cambodian authorities to investigate “blood slave” case

In a statement, the Chinese embassy in Cambodia said that it has called upon Cambodian authorities to look into the case. (https://news.yahoo.com/chinese-man-lured-fake-job-003617459.html) A representative of the embassy visited Li in the hospital this week. A Chinese man was nearly drained of all his blood by the time he escaped his captors in Sihanoukville city, Cambodia. The man, identified only by his surname Li, was kidnapped by a gang and used as a “blood slave” for months, reported South China Morning Post. Since August 2021, the gang reportedly took 27 ounces (800 milliliters) of blood from the 31-year-old man each month, leaving him just enough time to replenish his blood supply. It is believed that the gang sold the blood online to private buyers.