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Archive for February 21, 2022

Newsline: Diplomatic flurry over Ukraine dealt a blow

The diplomatic flurry continued to try and avert a potential conflict, but those efforts suffered a setback on Monday as Moscow said there were “no concrete plans” for a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden, throwing into question the fate of a French proposal publicized hours earlier. Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy shortly after Putin’s announcement and held a separate call with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday afternoon. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-agrees-biden-putin-summit-071704190.html) Putin signed a decree officially recognizing two self-proclaimed separatist republics in eastern Ukraine, a move that likely torpedoes European-mediated peace talks and further escalates tensions with the West. It drew immediate condemnation from the European Union including states in the bloc’s east. Putin made the announcement in a televised address that followed a meeting on Monday of his Security Council. It comes against a backdrop of heightened concern over Russia’s sustained troop buildup near Ukraine, even as Moscow continues to deny it plans to invade.

Newsline: Israel embassy in Kyiv moving to Lviv

Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that it is moving its embassy staff in Ukraine from the capital of Kyiv to the western city of Lviv as the threat of a Russian invasion looms. Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid decided to move the embassy staff after the ministry had conducted a a situation assessment and consulted with “various international actors.” According to the ministry, Israel’s consular office in Lviv has been working to provide travel documents for Israeli citizens. “The Foreign Ministry is prepared for any development, including the possibility of a land exit,” said the ministry. “Within this framework, Israeli diplomats stationed in Lviv as well as those serving in Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, and Hungary have held visits to border crossings with Ukraine, and meetings with the authorities at the crossings, in order to ensure the passage of Israeli citizens who wish to leave Ukraine.” (https://thehill.com/policy/international/595183-israel-embassy-kyiv-moving-to-lviv) The U.S. a week ago also made the decision to close down its embassy in Kyiv and move operations to Lviv.

Newsline: Russia to ‘intensify’ diplomacy over Ukraine crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin said diplomatic efforts need to intensify to find a resolution to the Ukraine crisis, a signal Moscow may be ready to discuss ways to walk back the threat of war in Europe. After a call with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, Putin blamed NATO for “pumping modern weapons and ammunition” into Ukraine. The phone conversation came two weeks after Macron went to Moscow to persuade Putin to refrain from sending troops massed on the border into Ukraine. A Kremlin statement said Putin and Macron discussed the supply of weapons and ammunition by NATO countries to Ukraine, which the Kremlin said was pushing Kyiv towards a “military solution” against separatists in the country’s east. “As a result civilians … who have to evacuate to Russia to escape the intensifying shelling suffer,” the Kremlin said. It added: “The presidents believe it is important to intensify efforts to find solutions through diplomatic means.” (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/20/vladimir-putin-diplomacy-over-ukraine-crisis-must-intensify) Putin and Macron agreed these efforts should be carried out by foreign ministers and representatives from France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, which make up the Normandy negotiations group.

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Newsline: Sweden withdraws most of diplomatic staff from Embassy in Kiev

Sweden has decided to withdraw most of diplomatic staff from its embassy in Kiev amid a high risk of full-scale conflict, considers closing the embassy, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Monday. “Sweden decided to return home most of the staff of its embassy from Kiev because of the increased risk of invasion,” Linde said, as quoted by Sveriges Radio. (https://www.devdiscourse.com/article/international/1930660-sweden-withdraws-most-of-diplomatic-staff-from-embassy-in-kiev-foreign-minister) Linde added that the embassy may be closed in the event of further deterioration of the situation in Ukraine. The security staff, as well as people working with diplomatic reporting and consular matters, will remain in the embassy in Kiev, Linde said.

Newsline: EU countries to ask top diplomat to increase climate action

European Union foreign ministers will call on the bloc’s top diplomat to scale up efforts on climate change this year to help clinch tougher emissions-cutting goals from individual countries, a draft document due to be adopted on Monday said. (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/eu-countries-to-ask-top-diplomat-to-increase-climate-action/ar-AAU6ZuP) Nearly 200 countries agreed at last year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, to set tougher emissions reduction targets in time for the next U.N. climate conference this November. The aim is to bridge the gap between countries’ pledges and the far faster emissions cuts needed this decade to stop the world heating beyond 2C or 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, which scientists say would unleash disastrous climate consequences. Foreign ministers from EU countries will on Monday urge the bloc’s most senior diplomat, high representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrell, to scale up climate diplomacy, according to a draft of their meeting conclusions.

Newsline: Italy’s ambassador to Australia dies in fall from balcony in home town

The Italian ambassador to Australia has died after falling from a balcony in her home town in Foligno in the Umbria region. According to reports, Ambassador Francesca Tardioli, 56, was found dead outside her house after apparently falling from the third floor. The incident is being investigated by the police in Italy. “Heartbreaking news on the passing of Ambassador Francesca Tardioli. Dear friend. Brilliant colleague. Greatly respected diplomat,” wrote Australia’s ambassador to Italy, Margaret Twomey, on Twitter. “Our thoughts are with her family, friends.’’ The embassy and Italy’s foreign affairs ministry also mourned her on social media. ‘’It is with profound sorrow that we weep for the loss of Francesca Tardioli and join the family’s grief. She was a great diplomat and servant of the State,’’ said the Italy’s foreign ministry on Twitter. “She allegedly lost her balance while leaning over her balcony,’’ Italian news agency AGI reported. (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/20/italys-ambassador-to-australia-dies-in-fall-from-balcony-in-home-town) Tardioli, who held the position of ambassador since September 2019 and was fluent in English and French and had a good knowledge of German and Spanish. She joined the Italian National Diplomatic Service in 1991.

Newsline: Families of Indian Embassy officials asked to leave Ukraine

The Indian Embassy in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Sunday asked its nationals, whose stay is not essential, to leave the country temporarily amid high levels of tensions on borders. “In view of the continued high levels of tensions and uncertainties with respect to the situation in Ukraine, all Indian nationals whose stay is not deemed essential and all Indian students, are advised to leave Ukraine temporarily,” said the embassy in its new advisory. “Available commercial flights, and charter flights may be availed for travel, for orderly and timely departure,” it added. The embassy also asked Indian students to also get in touch with respective student contractors for updates on charter flights. “Indian students are advised to also get in touch with respective student contractors for updates on charter flights, and also continue to follow Embassy Facebook, website and Twitter for any update,” it said. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/families-of-indian-embassy-officials-asked-to-leave-ukraine-sources/ar-AAU5VFt) It had asked its citizens to leave Kyiv temporarily amid the ongoing tension between Russia and Ukraine earlier on 15 February. In its advisory, India requested its nationals to keep the Embassy informed about the status of their presence to enable it to reach them where required.