Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 19, 2022

Newsline: Algeria recalls ambassador to Spain for consultations

Algeria has summoned its ambassador to Spain back for consultations over Madrid’s recent comments on Western Sahara, the foreign affairs ministry said on Saturday. “The Algerian authorities were very surprised by the surprising statements of the highest authorities in Spain on the issue of Western Sahara,” it said. (https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/algeria-recalls-ambassador-spain-consultations-2022-03-19/) Algeria is a key gas supplier to Spain and Italy. Spain and Morocco moved to patch up a diplomatic dispute on Friday as Madrid shifted closer towards Rabat’s position on the conflict in Western Sahara and said “a new phase in relations” had begun.

Newsline: Senior Russian diplomat at UN blocked by Twitter

Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, has been blocked by Twitter, said the diplomat on Friday. “I just wanted to announce that my Twitter was blocked today. And I received a message from the client service saying that I’m violating the rules of Twitter and I’m engaged in abuse and harassment,” Polyanskiy told reporters after a Security Council meeting. Polyanskiy read out the tweet in question: That’s how fake news is born. We warned in our statement back on 7 March that the hospital in Mariupol has been turned into a military object by radicals. Very disturbing that you help spread this information without verification. “That was my tweet. So it’s abuse and harassment according to Twitter,” he said. “This is very deplorable.” (http://www.news.cn/english/20220319/0f1fd80a28044f3bbcffdc5600eeab88/c.html) “This is a new interpretation of the word harassment as well,” Russia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, said at the press encounter.

Newsline: Russia hits out at ‘kindergarten’ Canada over annotated UN letter

Russia accused Canada of “kindergarten-level diplomacy” after diplomats posted a Russian letter to the United Nations on social media, having corrected it in red and added barbed commentary on the invasion of Ukraine. The letter was meant to drum up UN support for a Russian resolution on aid to Ukraine but made no mention of Vladimir Putin’s responsibility for the war. The acidic additions were labelled “suggested edits” by the Canadians, who accused Russia of showing “sheer contempt” for the UN and international law and called the resolution “farcical”. They accused Russia of “bombing schools and hospitals and looting aid” in an “illegal war of aggression” that defied “logic or reason”. The Twitter spat escalated after UN missions from other countries retweeted the Canadian social post, which Moscow described as “Russophobic libel”. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/18/russia-hits-kindergarten-canada-annotated-un-letter/) Dmitry Polyanskiy, the first deputy permanent representative of Russia to the UN, told the Canadians their tweet “shows that your diplomatic skills and good manners are at their lowest ebb”. He sniped that Canada had twice failed to win a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. In the letter, a Russian diplomat wrote: “With regards to an urgent matter related to the dire humanitarian situation in and around Ukraine”. The letter accused “Western colleagues” of “politicising the humanitarian issue”, and Canada replied: “Do you think the UN membership actually believes this? Please explain.” The letter was described as “doomed to fail” and “farcical” by US diplomats. Russia cancelled a scheduled vote on it on Thursday.

Newsline: Russia threatens response after four countries expel 20 diplomats

Four European countries have expelled a total of 20 Russian diplomats in a coordinated move that triggered a threat from the Russian foreign ministry. “All ungrounded expulsions of Russian diplomats will be met with an appropriate answer,” said Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry. (https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2022/03/18/Bulgaria-Latvia-estonia-Lithuania-Lavrov-Ukraine/9591647615579/) Bulgaria gave 10 diplomats 72 hours to leave the country and Lithuania expelled four Russian diplomats. Latvia and Estonia expelled three each. Latvia Minister For Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics tweeted on Friday that the three Russian embassy employees were expelled “in connection with activities that are contrary to their diplomatic status and taking into account ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine.” The expulsion of diplomats between Russia and the west has a long history. In late February, the United States expelled 12 diplomats from Russia’s United Nations mission, citing espionage.

Newsline: South Korean Embassy officials in Ukraine evacuate

South Korean Embassy officials have started withdrawing from their temporary mission in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv as Russia has stepped up bombings in the region, a Foreign Ministry official in Seoul said. “The members of the temporary mission in Lviv departed leading South Korean nationals in the morning and are moving to an area which the compatriots wanted,” the Ministry official said. (https://in.investing.com/news/skorean-embassy-officials-in-ukraine-evacuate-3128173) They were evacuating to Hungary along with three South Korean nationals as the outskirts of the city of came under missile strikes and shelling by Russian forces on Friday, reports Yonhap News Agency. The Embassy was relocated from the capital Kiev to three separate places, including Lviv, to support remaining Korean nationals in the war-ravaged country. The two others are in Ukraine’s Chernivtsi and Romania. There were five Korean nationals in the city and three of them joined the evacuation by vehicle, the official said, adding the Foreign Ministry will keep an eye on the other two, who reportedly decided to stay. No damage was reported among South Koreans from the attacks in Lviv, the official added.