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Archive for March 6, 2022

Newsline: U.S. diplomats working to secure release of basketball star detained by Russia

Diplomats were working to ensure the release of seven-time WNBA All-Star player Brittney Griner after Russia said it had detained the player last month for possession of vape cartridges containing hash oil, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday. (https://news.yahoo.com/u-working-secure-release-basketball-202838643.html) The Russian Customs Service, without naming Griner, said on Saturday that it had detained an athlete in February after the player arrived at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on a flight from New York. Russian news agency TASS identified the player as Griner, citing a source. Griner’s WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury, said: “We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia.” A scan of the player’s luggage revealed cartridges containing “liquid with hashish oil”, and a criminal case has been opened carrying a possible sentence of five to 10 years in prison, the customs service said. It was not clear when in February Griner, who plays in Russia during the WNBA’s winter off-season, was detained. The player is still in custody and an investigation is underway, the Russian Customs Service said.

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Newsline: Irish priest throws paint at Russian Embassy during live radio interview

A Catholic priest has thrown red paint at the gates of the Russian Embassy in Dublin, stating that he ensured the paint had an oil base so that would be difficult to remove. Fr. Fergal MacDonagh, from the Dolphin’s Barn parish in Dublin, threw the paint during a live interview with Irish radio show Liveline. “I’m about to throw paint at it. I won’t be the first and I won’t be the last. I’m going to do it now. I’m trying to not spill it,” MacDonagh told Liveline host Joe Duffy, before going quiet for several seconds. “I threw the empty tin of paint on the driveway,” the priest said, returning to the interview. (https://www.irishcentral.com/news/irish-priest-throws-paint-russian-embassy) He said he decided to douse the Embassy in paint after learning that Russia had bombed a maternity hospital.

Newsline: Pakistani premier hits out at Western envoys’ joint letter on Russia

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan hit out on Sunday at Islamabad-based Western envoys who last week urged Pakistan to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine, asking them if they thought Pakistan was their “slave”. The heads of 22 diplomatic missions, including those of European Union member states, released a joint letter on March 1 urging Pakistan to support a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The move to release the letter publicly was rare. “What do you think of us? Are we your slaves … that whatever you say, we will do?” Khan said while addressing a political rally. In the event, Pakistan, a traditional ally of the West, abstained from voting as the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly reprimanded Russia for invading Ukraine. “I want to ask the European Union ambassadors: Did you write such a letter to India?” Khan said, noting that Pakistan’s arch-rival had also abstained. (https://news.yahoo.com/pakistani-premier-hits-western-envoys-174508143.html) He said Pakistan had suffered because it had supported the Western NATO alliance in Afghanistan, and instead of gratitude faced criticism. Khan and his government found themselves in the spotlight after he went ahead with a visit to Moscow in late February as fears of an invasion were growing, and met Vladimir Putin a few hours after the Russian president had ordered his troops into Ukraine.

Newsline: Blinken lauds work of staff at US embassy in Kyiv

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a meeting with Kyiv embassy staff in Rzeszow, Poland on Saturday. (https://www.usatoday.com/videos/news/nation/2022/03/05/blinken-lauds-work-staff-us-embassy-kyiv/9394286002/) Blinken thanked workers for their efforts to assist Ukrainians and others following the Russian assault on Ukraine this week.

Newsline: Russia demands that Baltic countries protect its embassies

Moscow demanded on Saturday that authorities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania take measures to protect Russia’s embassies after a Russian diplomat was attacked in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, the Russian RIA news agency said. “We are warning Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn that they are responsible for the consequences of the anti-Russian psychosis they have unleashed,” the Russian foreign ministry was quoted as saying. “A Russian diplomat in the Lithuanian capital was attacked with the use of physical force, attempts were made to put pressure on the Ambassador,” it added. (https://news.yahoo.com/russia-demands-baltic-countries-protect-173507830.html) Lithuania’s national broadcaster reported last week that a third secretary of the Russian embassy was beaten on the evening of Feb. 24 near the embassy, in a residential courtyard. The broadcaster cited a Lithuanian police spokesperson. A suspect in the beating, which took place as an estimated 10,000 people gathered in front of the embassy to show support for Ukraine following the start of Russia’s invasion earlier that day, was arrested, the spokesperson was quoted as saying. The diplomat declined medical help, she added.

Newsline: Former UK diplomat discusses ‘main weapon’ West has to stop Russian war on Ukraine

Former British Ambassador to the US, Sir Christopher Meyer sat down on GB News to talk about ways to slow Putin down. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been waging war on neighbouring Ukraine and has been facing ongoing global political backlash which has led to damaging economic sanctions on the Russian economy. The Russian Ruble took a crash due to those sanctions, and many more Western companies have banned Russians from using their services. Mr Meyer said: “Well at the moment it is the main weapon that we in the West have at our disposal from stopping Putin from doing what he’s doing right now. “We had hope that the threat of sanctions will be a sufficient deterrent to stop him invading Ukraine. “But he clearly priced in some form of sanctions already and was determined to go ahead. Mr Meyer added: “Because what we’re doing at the moment is clearly not enough. “Having said that, this is not sanctions, economic measures don’t bring results. “And I think the best that we can hope, and let’s just put it as crudely as necessary, is to slow strangulation of the Putin regime leading to a situation in which his own people will say to him… This is enough we need another leader, get out.” (https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1576048/Former-Diplomat-Ukraine-Putin-Economy-Ruble-Gas-Oil-Invasion-War-Zelensky-Banks-Money-VN) Foreign Secretary for the UK, Liz Truss has been working tirelessly for the past two weeks to impose financial sanctions on Russia.

Newsline: ASEAN Envoy Confirms Mission to Myanmar Later This Month

Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn will pay a four-day visit to Myanmar later this month for talks with top representatives of the country’s military government, his first official trip as special envoy for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). A ministry spokesperson announced that the trip would take place on March 20-23. While details of the Sokhonn’s agenda have apparently not been finalized, he is set to inch forward the implementation of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus peace plan, which it reached at a special summit last April. (https://thediplomat.com/2022/03/asean-envoy-confirms-mission-to-myanmar-later-this-month/) The Consensus aims to a achieve “an immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar” and a peaceful solution involving “all parties,” in addition to the delivery of humanitarian aid. But the ruling military junta has dragged its feet on the implementation of the plan, redoubling its efforts to quash the rising armed resistance to its rule. While the visit could lead to some progress on access for humanitarian aid, progress on the substantive points – namely, a genuine cessation of violence and political negotiations – seems unlikely.