Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 17, 2022

Newsline: Deadly poison with letter demanding Julian Assange’s release sent to British consulate in Germany

Deadly poison was sent to the British consulate in Düsseldorf this week – along with a threatening letter demanding Julian Assange’s release, it has emerged. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/03/17/poisonous-letter-sent-british-consulate-dusseldorf-demanding/) The threatening letter called for the release of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, is awaiting extradition to the US on charges of espionage.

Newsline: Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s plane allegedly turns around back to Moscow during flight to China

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was allegedly on a flight headed to Beijing Thursday, but the plane turned around midway and flew back toward Moscow, according to German newspaper Bild. (https://www.foxnews.com/world/russia-lavrov-plane-turns-around-flight-china-returns-moscow-report) The plane allegedly turned around while over Novosibirsk, a city in Siberia, according to Bild. Fox News Digital has been unable to independently verify the outlet’s report. A tweet posted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia on Thursday states Lavrov was holding a press conference just ahead of 1 p.m. Thursday local time. That would put Lavrov in Moscow at the time he was allegedly in the air. It is unclear if China refused to meet with a Russian official or if Russian President Vladimir Putin called him back to Russia, according to Bild. The plane’s final destination is also unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Fox News they did not have information to share on the matter.

Newsline: G-7′s top diplomats condemn Russia’s ‘indiscriminate attacks’

Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven leading economies are calling on Russia to comply with the International Court of Justice’s order to stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw its military forces. In a joint statement, the G-7′s top diplomats condemned what they described as “indiscriminate attacks on civilians” by Russian forces including the siege of Mariupol and other cities. The G-7 said that “those responsible for war crimes, including indiscriminate use of weapons against civilians, will be held responsible” and welcomed work to investigate and gather evidence in this regard, including by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. (https://www.bostonherald.com/2022/03/17/live-updates-g-7-decries-russias-indiscriminate-attacks/) The group also said it stood ready to further increase the pressure of sanctions on Ukraine and provide further aid to those in need, including the small nation of Moldova. Moldova is offering shelter to the largest group of refugees from Ukraine per capita.

Newsline: Former foreign minister says Russia must stop ‘diplomacy of deception’

A former Russian foreign minister told Fox News Digital that Russia needs to return to “international norms” before meaningful talks and relations can occur. Andrei Kozyrev, who served as Russia’s foreign minister from 1990 to 1996, said that the West and Russia will remain at odds until “Russian rulers start to behave within the international norms.” And talks with Russia will also prove difficult as Russia practices what Kozyrev called “diplomacy of deception.” “It’s a talk of lies, you know,” he said. (https://news.yahoo.com/russia-intends-further-ukraine-must-135846117.html) Kozyrev spoke at length about his working relationship with his then-deputy and now-current Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who took office in 2004 and “changed drastically” from his earlier days in the ministry. “I don’t know why he’s doing this,” Kozyrev added. “He was a good diplomat and a good person … he was my friend.”

Newsline: Top level diplomacy on Ukraine between US and China

Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping will speak about Russia after the U.S. president branded Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” and offered $800 million more in arms to Ukraine. A Kremlin spokesman said a report of major progress in talks with Ukraine was “wrong” but that discussions will continue on Thursday. On Wednesday Zelenskiy told NBC News that negotiations with Russia are continuing but are “fairly difficult.” (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ukraine-zelenskiy-says-russia-creating-090341309.html) Ukraine’s military said Russian strikes continued on infrastructure and on densely populated residential areas. But it said the Kremlin’s forces remain bogged down on the ground. Russia said its troops were advancing through the town of Sievierodonetsk in the Luhansk region in the east. Fighting continues close to Kyiv. Group of Seven foreign ministers meet virtually Thursday to discuss the crisis.

Newsline: Hope for a diplomatic end to the war in Ukraine

Representatives from both Ukraine and Russia have recently expressed optimism about progress made in potential peace talks after three weeks of war. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the two sides were “close to an agreement,” while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s demands were becoming “more realistic.” (https://news.yahoo.com/is-there-hope-for-a-diplomatic-end-to-the-war-in-ukraine-132738350.html) Their hopeful language stands in stark contrast to the situation on the ground, which has featured relentless Russian assaults on Ukrainian cities even as its ground troops have struggled to advance. Zelensky on Tuesday said Ukraine may be willing to drop its longstanding goal of becoming a full member of NATO, an apparent concession to one of Russia’s top demands. A Kremlin spokesperson said last week that the war could “be stopped in a moment” if Ukraine agreed to stay out of the military alliance, to acknowledge Crimea — the Black Sea peninsula that Russia invaded and annexed in 2014 — as official Russian territory, and also to recognize the independence of two Russian-backed breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine. For its part, Ukraine is seeking a ceasefire, the maintenance of its democratic government, the full withdrawal of Russian troops and security guarantees from Western allies.

Newsline: Diplomats work to salvage 2015 Iran nuclear deal

As the war in Ukraine rages on, diplomats trying to salvage the languishing 2015 Iran nuclear deal have been forging ahead with negotiations despite distractions caused by the conflict. (https://news.yahoo.com/ukraine-war-rages-diplomats-near-041337851.html) They now appear to be near the cusp of a deal that would bring the U.S. back into the accord and bring Iran back into compliance with limits on its nuclear program. “We are close to a possible deal, but we’re not there yet,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday. “We are going to find out in the near term whether we’re able to get there.” Also Wednesday in Berlin, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christofer Burger said work “on drafting a final text has been completed” and ”the necessary political decisions now need to be taken in capitals.” “We hope that these negotiations can now be swiftly completed,” he said. After 11 months of on-and-off talks in Vienna, U.S. officials and others say only a very small number of issues remain to be resolved. Meanwhile, Russia appears to have backed down on a threat to crater an agreement over Ukraine-related sanctions that had dampened prospects for a quick deal. That leaves an agreement — or at least an agreement in principle — up to political leaders in Washington and Tehran. But, as has been frequently the case, both Iran and the U.S. say those decisions must be made by the other side, leaving a resolution in limbo even as all involved say the matter is urgent and must be resolved as soon as possible.

Newsline: Ukrainian Staff at U.S. Embassy Left Behind

Local Ukrainian staff of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv are pleading with the U.S. government for help and accusing State Department officials of backtracking on promises of support as they scramble to survive or escape the Russian invasion. A group of Ukrainian employees of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv sent a letter to State Department management on March 11 raising alarm bells about a “change in tone and open denial of prior promises” by State Department officials in Washington after the Ukrainian employees had requested financial support, help with safely evacuating their families, and possible avenues for visas to the United States. The letter, obtained by Foreign Policy, was written by the leaders of the embassy’s local staff committee and outlined the concerns of some 600 Ukrainians who work for the U.S. diplomatic mission in Ukraine. (https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/16/ukrainian-staff-at-u-s-embassy-left-behind-say-u-s-is-backtracking-on-promises-of-support/) They said State Department officials in Washington who spoke to them over the course of several virtual town hall meetings had reneged on promises to provide cash salary payments and other long-term financial assistance to the Ukrainian employees whose lives have been upended by the war and the closure of the U.S. Embassy.