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Archive for March 8, 2022

Newsline: EU diplomats to green-light further sanctions against Russia

EU ambassadors will this afternoon discuss another round of sanctions against Russia, according to two diplomats, who are expecting the package to get a political green light at the meeting. The new package includes sanctions targeting more Russian oligarchs and elements of the maritime industry, but will not directly hit any ports to avoid disruption in trade and energy supplies, the diplomats said. (https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-diplomats-to-green-light-further-sanctions-against-russia-ukraine-war/) Ukraine and the U.S. have also called on the EU to also target Russian gas and oil imports as part of international sanctions. European Commission heavyweights such as finance and trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis and climate chief Frans Timmermans also argued that nothing should be off the table to stop Russia’s aggression, given Europe’s energy imports are financing Putin’s war machine. But one diplomat stressed more time is needed to find a consensus among EU countries on the issue of targeting oil, especially given Germany’s open resistance to banning Russian energy. The issue is set to be discussed by EU leaders at their informal summit later this week, the diplomat said. If the new sanctions are agreed, the formal adoption could come as early as March 9, according to the second diplomat. They would come on top of a long list of earlier EU sanctions, coordinated with the U.S. and the U.K., including financial sanctions. In parallel, Brussels is also discussing with other G7 countries removing the trade benefits that Russia enjoys at the World Trade Organization, with an announcement potentially coming later on March 8.

Newsline: Staff at British embassy in Ukraine not offered refuge in UK

Ukrainians who worked at the British embassy in Kyiv are being told they will not get refuge in the UK as they seek to flee the war unless they can fulfil strict entry qualifications, The Independent has been told. (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ukraine-embassy-staff-diplomats-uk-b2031024.html) The staff, many of whom have worked at the mission for years, are believed to have been informed that they will only qualify for a visa if they have close relations in the UK. A number of British diplomats were said to believe that failure to evacuate embassy staff amounted to creating ‘Afghanistan part two’.

Newsline: Poland has no plans to evacuate consulate, embassy from Ukraine

A Polish deputy foreign minister has said that, for now, there are no plans to evacuate the Polish consulate general from Lwow and the embassy from Kyiv. “…We do not plan to evacuate the embassy staff, who remained in Kyiv, nor Ambassador Bartosz Cichocki,” Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek told a Polish public radio programme on Tuesday. The deputy minister admitted, however, that the Polish diplomatic corps in Ukraine had been reduced. “The diplomatic staff have already left our consulates general in the cities, where fierce fighting has been taking place and where the security of our diplomats could be threatened, namely, Kharkiv, Odessa and Lutsk,” Szynkowski vel Sek said. (https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/poland-has-no-plans-to-evacuate-consulate-embassy-from-ukraine-28540) “But our diplomatic personnel will continue its mission in all places where it is needed, where it can work effectively and where all security measures are observed,” the official stated. Szynkowski vel Sek said that the Polish consulate general in Lwow “has been working very hard.”

Newsline: Russia Gambit at Iran Nuclear Talks Casts Pall Over Diplomacy

A Russian gambit linking its war on Ukraine to negotiations aimed at restoring a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers is poised to postpone an anticipated resolution of the talks. The Kremlin’s demand for U.S. guarantees that sanctions imposed over its Ukraine invasion won’t affect Moscow’s business with Iran has sparked concern among some diplomats. While it’s unlikely to derail the nuclear talks completely, it potentially adds new complications to discussions that envoys had predicted would conclude in days. Iran’s chief negotiator in Vienna, Ali Bagheri Kani, unexpectedly returned to Tehran late on Monday for a “short trip” to consult with officials, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The negotiations to rein in Iran’s nuclear work remain snarled over the scope and timing of U.S. sanctions relief. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/russia-gambit-iran-nuclear-talks-110603598.html) European Union deputy foreign policy chief Enrique Mora, who’s coordinating talks, said on Twitter that technical discussions to restore the 2015 accord have concluded and that it’s now time for senior politicians to make decisions. He suggested that Russia’s new demands were just “noise,” echoing a position taken by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday.

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Newsline: Foreign policy experts call for ‘limited no-fly zone’ over Ukraine

More than two dozen foreign policy experts have called for the United States and NATO to institute a partial no-fly zone over Ukraine, which would serve as an escalation of the conflict with Russia. In a letter first reported by Politico on Tuesday morning, the 27 officials “[urged] the Biden administration, together with NATO allies, to impose a limited No-Fly Zone over Ukraine starting with protection for humanitarian corridors that were agreed upon in talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials on Thursday.” “NATO leaders should convey to Russian officials that they do not seek direct confrontation with Russian forces, but they must also make clear that they will not countenance Russian attacks on civilian areas,” they added. (https://www.aol.com/foreign-policy-experts-call-limited-142427346.html) Among those signing the letter were William Taylor (former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine), Kurt Volker (former U.S. ambassador to NATO) and Alexander Vershbow (former U.S. ambassador to both NATO and Russia).

Newsline: Moscow scolds Irish envoy after truck driven into Russian embassy gates

Russia called in the Irish ambassador on Tuesday to demand an apology and lodge a formal complaint, the foreign ministry said, after a man drove a lorry through the gates of Russia’s embassy to Dublin to protest against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian ministry accused protesters near its embassy of “essentially adopting tactics widely used by terrorists”, demanded Ireland compensate Moscow for damage and said it wanted those responsible for the incident punished. “We … expect the authorities of the country to conduct an objective investigation and punish those responsible,” it said in a statement. (https://news.yahoo.com/moscow-scolds-irish-envoy-truck-132913375.html) Videos posted on social media showed a driver reversing an articulated truck through the gates of the embassy and stopping after one gate was torn off.

Newsline: China’s top diplomat pledges to play ‘constructive role’ in resolving Ukraine crisis

China has offered to play a “constructive role” in mediating the conflict in Ukraine but continues to refuse to condemn the Russian invasion is it tries to maintain its delicate balancing act. During a carefully choreographed press conference on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress on Monday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Russia was China’s “most important strategic partner” and criticised the United States for trying to suppress and encircle China. Wang also described Beijing as a benign “responsible” power in response to growing pressure from Washington and its allies to rein in Russia. He repeated Beijing’s opposition to any moves that could add “fuel to the flames” – a veiled swipe at Western sanctions on Moscow – and said the priority should instead be to promote direct talks between Ukraine and Russia while preventing a massive humanitarian crisis. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/china-says-keen-play-constructive-093000760.html) “China is prepared to continue playing a constructive role to facilitate dialogue for peace and work alongside the international communications when needed to carry out necessary mediation,” he said, falling short of clarifying if China would act as an intermediary in the conflict.

Newsline: Ukraine’s ambassador told Russian diplomats to seek mental help

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations delivered a cynical quip to Russian diplomats at a Security Council meeting on Monday night, suggesting they seek mental help for continuing to push the Kremlin’s talking points on the invasion of Ukraine. At the meeting, Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya held a printout of a tweet by the Russian embassy in the UK, which published a claim by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that “the goal of Russia’s special military operation is to stop any war that could take place on Ukrainian territory or that could start from there.” “Russian embassy in London, retweeted by the Russian Foreign Ministry,” Kyslytsya said. “Let me remind the Russian diplomats that in London, in case of need for mental help, you can dial NHS line 111. Thank you,” the ambassador said, referring to the UK’s National Health Service. (https://news.yahoo.com/ukraines-ambassador-told-russian-diplomats-085518828.html) Kyslytsya has regularly made scathing remarks toward Russia’s representatives since President Vladimir Putin announced a military assault on Ukraine on February 24. Kyslytsya previously told Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, that war criminals “go straight to hell” and that his words were “less value than a hole in the New York pretzel.”