Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 18, 2022

Newsline: Ex-Foreign Minister Says Russia’s Diplomats Should Resign

Russia’s first foreign minister following the break-up of the Soviet Union has said that Moscow’s foreign diplomats should quit their posts in protest of the war in Ukraine. Andrei Kozyrev, who was Russia’s top diplomat between 1990 and 1996 under President Boris Yeltsin, told Newsweek that Russian envoys had a responsibility to oppose the invasion ordered by President Vladimir Putin. “Like the military, diplomats have a responsibility to their country to defend and to promote the interests of their country,” Kozyrev told Newsweek by phone from Washington, D.C. “The interest of the country is opposite to the interest of the Putin regime. Kozyrev said that there is the chance that some Duma parliamentarians might “believe their own propaganda,” in what might be a “conviction of convenience,” but diplomats who were abroad are not isolated from the truth of the Ukraine war. “They watch daily what we watch, television, radio stations, they know the truth. If you could suspect that some of those in the Duma are disoriented by the propaganda, these guys have daily access to free media. They cannot not claim for their conscience that they don’t know, they do know,” Kozyrev said. (https://www.newsweek.com/andrei-kozyrev-lavrov-russia-war-diplomats-ukraine-putin-1689491) He believed the resignation of diplomats and parliamentarians would pressure Putin more than any sanctions could.

Newsline: Chinese foreign ministry official meets with Russia’s ambassador to China

A Chinese foreign ministry official met with Russia’s ambassador to China on March 17 to exchange views on bilateral relations, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday. (https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinese-foreign-ministry-official-meets-with-russias-ambassador-china-2022-03-18/) Cheng Guoping, Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Affairs at China’s foreign ministry, met with Andrey Denisov of Russia and exchanged views on bilateral counter-terrorism and security cooperation, according to the statement.

Newsline: South Korea To Close Temporary Embassy In Ukraine’s Lviv

As the Russia-Ukraine war shows no sign of de-escalation even after three weeks of conflict, South Korea has decided to shut down its temporary embassy in Lviv. In a statement, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry announced on Friday, March 18, that the decision has been taken due to “escalating military threats” near the western Ukrainian city, CNN reported. According to the statement, the increased military threats near Lviv have hampered the embassy’s ability “to function and to secure the safety of its staff”. (https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/russia-ukraine-crisis/south-korea-to-close-temporary-embassy-in-ukraines-lviv-as-russian-shelling-intensifies-articleshow.html) On March 3, the South Korean embassy in Ukraine was relocated from Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, to Lviv. The ministry has further noted that it also has temporary offices in Chernivtsi, southwestern Ukraine, as well as Romania, all of which will remain open and operating. There were 28 South Korean citizens in Ukraine as of Thursday, excluding embassy staff and those in the Crimean Peninsula.

Newsline: Spanish embassy and consulate staff on ‘indefinite strike’ in the UK

Eighty percent of employees of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UK, and associated trade unions, are supporting a strike against salary inequality and Social Security payments. The strike began with a protest outside the Spanish embassy in London on Monday 14 March, and is now in its fifth day. A second call to strike will take place on Monday 21 March in Manchester. (https://www.surinenglish.com/spain/spanish-embassy-consulate-20220316140626-nt.html) In a statement, representatives of the employees have said that the strike will go on for an indefinite period of time until demands are met, affecting the consulates in London, Manchester and Edinburgh, as well as the embassy. According to the representatives, the problems regarding salary inequality and Social Security payments have been made worse since the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The workers have three main demands. Firstly, a salary update to remedy their loss of purchasing power due to thirteen years of frozen wages. Secondly, they demand the immediate homogenisation of workers’ salaries within the same administrative category. According to the representatives’ statement, newer employees are being paid more than those who have worked within the organisations for years, despite the fact that all are affected by rising prices and inflation. They claimed that workers with the longest contracts sometimes find that their salary does not comply with the United Kingdom’s minimum wage. Thirdly, strikers demand the option to contribute to the Spanish Social Security system. According to the representatives, the strike comes after months of unsuccessful communication with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Director General of the Foreign Service.

Newsline: Cyprus establishes 24-hour channel of communication with Ukraine embassy

Cypriot authorities have established a 24-hour channel of communication with the Ukrainian embassy in Nicosia to facilitate assistance to refugees from the war-torn country, Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said on Friday. (https://cyprus-mail.com/2022/03/18/cyprus-establishes-24-hour-channel-of-communication-with-ukraine-embassy/) Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Ukraine’s ambassador Ruslan Nimchynskyi, Nouris said the government supports the people of Ukraine on both a political and humanitarian level. He outlined to the ambassador the help Cyprus will be offering Ukrainians that was decided at a high-level meeting on Thursday and will be approved by cabinet on Tuesday and includes accommodation and access to jobs and health care. A channel of communication has been established between the embassy, the interior ministry and the population and migration department to resolve problems that arise. For example, help was needed from the embassy concerning arrivals of individuals who may have travelled without the necessary supporting documents, he said.

Newsline: UK senior diplomat resigns in protest over shake-up

Liz Truss is facing a Foreign Office mutiny after a senior diplomat resigned in protest over a departmental shake-up designed to prioritise its work on Ukraine. Staff were told the Russian invasion represents a “paradigm shift” for the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and “changes the context” of its work. The leadership of the department is being reorganised to “shift our emphasis” to Ukraine, according to a message sent to staff by Sir Philip Barton, the FCDO’s permanent secretary. The memo sets out a series of changes, including the reinforcement of the senior team dedicated to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, providing clearer leadership of the departments “geographic work” and the creation of a Director General to lead development work, initially focused on the Ukraine humanitarian crisis. A new Economics Director will work on financial matters, including on sanctions. But the changes have already led to division after Moazzam Malik, who currently serves as the Director-General for Africa, “declined” a role in the restructuring. A Whitehall source told The Telegraph that Mr Malik, who was previously a Director General at the Department for International Development (DFID), “didn’t agree with the new structure or how it was being done”. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/03/18/exclusive-liz-truss-faces-foreign-office-mutiny-senior-diplomat/) It is understood the reorganisation will not involve redundancies but staff are likely to be moved into different areas of the department. Some staff were told this week three areas are set to be reduced, including global health, climate and conflict, which were all formerly DFID priorities. Moazzam Malik and the FCDO did not respond to a request for comment.

Newsline: Bulgaria expels 10 Russian diplomats

Bulgaria’s foreign ministry has announced the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats on Friday. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/18/bulgaria-expels-10-russian-diplomats) Russian diplomatic representatives were accused of breaching international conventions on diplomatic ties, according to Bulgaria’s foreign ministry.

Newsline: Baltic countries expel Russian embassy staff

Three Baltic countries have ordered the expulsion of Russian embassy staff members in a coordinated action taken in solidarity with Ukraine. Lithuania’s foreign ministry said on Friday that four Russian embassy staff are no longer welcome in the country, while in neighboring Latvia, three Russian staff were declared persona non grata. (https://www.bostonherald.com/2022/03/18/live-updates-u-n-internally-displaced-in-ukraine-above-2m/) Russia’s ambassador to Lithuania, Aleksei Isakov, was informed that their activities were incompatible with the status of a diplomat, according to the official statement of the Lithuanian foreign ministry. Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said that the expulsion of the embassy staff was a coordinated action of the Baltic States, which include former Soviet republics Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Estonia also announced on Friday that it was ordering three staff of the Russian Embassy in the capital Tallinn to leave the country.

Newsline: Canada trolls Russia’s UN representative

Canada’s Mission to the United Nations on Thursday trolled a Russian diplomat by marking up the diplomat’s letter denouncing a UN resolution condemning attacks on civilians by Russian troops in Ukraine. (https://www.businessinsider.com/canada-trolls-russian-united-nations-diplomat-edits-letter-resolution-ukraine-2022-3) The letter, written by Russia’s UN representative Vassily Nebenzia, urged member states to ignore a proposed humanitarian resolution in regards to Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine, and accept its own draft resolution. Canada’s UN representative decided, however, to post copies of the letter to Twitter, and made edits in red ink. In the edited letter, Canada slammed Russia for being the “primary cause” of war in Ukraine, “bombing schools and hospitals,” violating international law, and more.