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Archive for March 3, 2022

Newsline: Breakdown of US-Russia diplomacy runs deep beyond Ukraine

Eyeing each other warily across negotiating tables, U.S. and Russian diplomats never much trusted each other. Yet even during the Cold War, they hashed out agreements on the biggest issues of the day. There hasn’t been a total breakdown in diplomatic ties. For the moment at least, embassies remain open in both capitals despite a festering but unrelated diplomatic spat that has seen the two sides expel dozens of diplomats since 2017. And both Russia and the United States are involved in negotiations about reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, now underway in Vienna. The well-known “hotline” communication channels aimed at preventing nuclear war remain in place. And the Pentagon has established a “de-confliction line” of direct communication with the Russian ministry of defense to avoid unintended Ukraine military incidents and escalation. (https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Breakdown-of-US-Russia-diplomacy-runs-deep-16974192.php) With a wide-ranging list of potential areas of cooperation, the Biden administration has sought to ensure that not all contacts are banned. It has barred most U.S. diplomats from formal interactions with their Russian counterparts overseas, but the State Department said Tuesday that U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan has been in touch with counterparts in Moscow in recent days. The exemptions to barred contacts include not just the Iran talks but discussions with Russia at most international forums like the United Nations. They also include direct talks with Moscow on consular issues, which for the United States means primarily the fate of at least two Americans detained on what Washington says are specious espionage charges.

Newsline: Japan’s embassy in Kyiv to temporarily close

Japan said it will temporarily close its embassy in Kyiv as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine escalates, with many civilians desperately fleeing the country. The embassy’s operations will be transferred to a temporary liaison office set up in Lviv in western Ukraine, according to the Foreign Ministry. The office, located near the border with Poland, will continue to provide support to Japanese citizens living in Ukraine, including those trying to evacuate from the country, the ministry said. (https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/03/178c653be0d1-urgent-japan-to-temporarily-close-embassy-in-kyiv.html) The decision to close the embassy on Wednesday was announced after Russia’s military said it would strike Ukrainian communications and intelligence sites in Kyiv, warning residents near them to leave. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started last week, the embassy’s operations have been downscaled. But the Japanese ambassador to Ukraine, Kuninori Matsuda, and a few others have remained in Kyiv. As of Feb. 27, about 120 Japanese nationals were in Ukraine. The Japanese government has called on them to evacuate and secured a chartered plane to transport them from Poland to a third country.

Newsline: Uruguayans rally for peace in front of Russian embassy in Montevideo

Hundreds of people demonstrated against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with applause, horns and chants for peace in front of the Russian embassy in Montevideo on Wednesday evening. (https://www.euronews.com/2022/03/03/uruguayans-rally-for-peace-in-front-of-russian-embassy-in-montevideo) Uruguayans for the most part, but also Ukrainians and demonstrators of other nationalities, responded to a call made through social networks to gather in front of the building with a yellow flower.

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Newsline: Ukrainian diplomats in Moscow moved to Latvia

Ukrainian diplomats formerly based in Moscow arrived in Latvia on Wednesday evening, Latvia’s foreign minister said. “Latvia welcomes Ukrainian diplomats who left Moscow and crossed Latvian-Russian border last night,” minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted on Thursday. (https://news.yahoo.com/ukrainian-diplomats-moscow-moved-latvia-090428469.html) Latvia said on Saturday it would give refuge to the diplomats after receiving their plea for help.

Newsline: Hungary evacuates 32 people from embassy in Kyiv

Hungary has evacuated 32 people from its embassy in Kyiv, including some Hungarian embassy staff, two journalists, 10 South African and 10 Nigerian nationals, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday. (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/hungary-evacuates-32-people-embassy-kyiv-minister-2022-03-03/) He said the evacuated embassy staff and foreign nationals crossed over into Hungary overnight.

Newsline: Loud explosion heard near Russian Embassy in Washington

Police responded to an alleged explosion heard just before 1 a.m. Thursday in Glover Park, Washington, D.C., near where the Russian Embassy is located. (https://www.foxnews.com/us/loud-explosion-heard-in-d-c-near-russian-embassy-report) Several people who heard the explosion took to social media to ask about it, as law enforcement officers and the Secret Service reportedly arrived and searched the area. There was no official word on what caused the explosion, which was also reportedly heard in Cathedral Heights, but it may have been a blown electrical transformer. D.C. police, DC Fire and Secret Service have searched around the Russian Embassy after some reports of a loud boom, but nothing was found.

Newsline: Russia’s foreign minister becomes the country’s ‘Minister No’

As Russia’s top diplomat during the invasion of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is embodying the Kremlin’s defiant posture with a mixture of toughness and sarcasm. While President Vladimir Putin single-handedly shapes the country’s foreign policy, Lavrov delivers Moscow’s message with a bluntness uncharacteristic of a diplomat. (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/sergey-lavrov-russias-foreign-minister-becomes-the-countrys-minister-no-01646223273) In the role for nearly 18 years, the 71-year-old Lavrov has seen relations with the West shift from near-friendly to openly hostile, plummeting to a catastrophic new low with Russia’s war against Ukraine. The invasion prompted the European Union to freeze the assets of both Putin and Lavrov, among others — an unprecedented blow to Moscow’s pride. Lavrov’s tenure as foreign minister is second only to that of Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, who was in office for 28 years. Like Gromyko, who was nicknamed Mr. Nyet (Mr. No), Lavrov has come to represent the uncompromising face of Kremlin foreign policy vis a vis the West. He doesn’t mince words when defending what he sees as Moscow’s interests, and that style must appeal to the tough-talking Russian president.