Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 20, 2022

Newsline: Toronto unveils ‘Free Ukraine’ signs in front of Russian consulate

In a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, Toronto unveiled “Free Ukraine” signs outside of the Russian Consulate on St. Clair Avenue on Sunday. The area will now also be called “Free Ukraine Square” on an honourary basis. Speaking at the unveiling Sunday morning, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he wanted to make it clear that the city “joins the rest of the world in expressing our absolute outrage at what is going on in Ukraine” and at the “unlawful, treacherous, murderous invasion that is taking place.” (https://globalnews.ca/news/8696219/toronto-free-ukraine-signs-russian-consulate/) Tory said the signs “send a message” to Russia that Ukraine should be free. “‘Free Ukraine’ means back to being a free Ukraine where people are not faced with this atrocious invasion,” he said. Tory said he hopes that when Torontonians see the signs, they will be reminded that the city stands in solidarity with Ukraine and its people.

Newsline: Greek Diplomat in Mariupol Arrives in Greece

Greek diplomat Manolis Androulakis, who was the last remaining Western diplomat left in the city of Mariupol, Ukraine, arrived in Greece from Bucharest on Sunday evening. When Androulakis arrived at the Athens International Airport on Sunday, his family, including his wife, son, and father, were waiting for him. Mariupol will be added to the lists of international cities that have been destroyed, such as Guernica, Stalingrad, and Grozny,” Androulakis stated just after arriving in Athens. (https://greekreporter.com/2022/03/20/greek-diplomat-mariupol-ukraine-greece/) The Greek diplomat lived through a series of Russian attacks on the city, where residents have been left without necessities like food, water, and heat for weeks.

Newsline: Belarus’s Ambassador Offered ’30 Pieces Of Silver’ As He Left Ukraine

Belarus has withdrawn all of its diplomats from Ukraine. When Ambassador Ihar Sokol was leaving, a Ukrainian border officer tried to hand him “30 pieces of silver” — a reference to the biblical story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. (https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-belarus-ambassador-incident/31762016.html) Russian troops who were deployed in Belarus for military exercises joined the invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.

Newsline: Yemen ambassador to Tehran accuses Arab countries of being US tools

Yemen’s ambassador to Tehran has denounced certain regional Arab regimes’ subservience to the United States, saying that they act to facilitate US plots in the region. “Some Arab and Muslim countries have become a tool in the hands of the US to implement its agendas” across the region, Ibrahim al-Deilami made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Press TV on Saturday. (https://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2022/03/20/678861/Yemen-ambassador-Tehran-interview-Press-TV) Many regional Arab regimes have been trying hard to ingratiate themselves with the US by hosting American troops, allowing their soils to be used as launching pads for attacks on their fellow regional nations, the Yemeni envoy said. Deilami added that some Arab governments in the region have even entered US-facilitated normalization agreements with the Israeli regime, which is Washington’s biggest ally in the region. The US, in turn, has been providing arms as well as logistical and political support for a 2015-present Saudi Arabia-led war on Yemen, which has killed thousands of Yemenis.

Newsline: China harks back to Belgrade embassy bombing after Nato cites its ‘obligation’ on Ukraine

Beijing has compared the Russian invasion of Ukraine with the bombing of its embassy in Yugoslavia by Nato forces decades ago, in response to the Nato chief saying China should condemn Russia. The Chinese diplomatic mission in the European Union said that Chinese people could fully relate to the suffering of other countries because “we will never forget who bombed our embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia”. “We need no lecture on justice from the abuser of international law,” it said. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/china-harks-back-belgrade-embassy-093000461.html) Its statement referred to the intervention in Yugoslavia by Nato in 1999, when five US bombs hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Three Chinese journalists were killed. Bill Clinton, the US president at that time, apologised for the bombing and said it was an accident, while the Chinese government said it was a “barbarian act”.

Newsline: China’s foreign minister says the country on the right side of history over Ukraine war

China stands on the right side of history over the Ukraine crisis as time will tell, and its position is in line with the wishes of most countries, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. “China will never accept any external coercion or pressure, and opposes any unfounded accusations and suspicions against China,” Wang told reporters on Saturday evening, according to a statement published by his ministry on Sunday. (https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-right-side-history-over-ukraine-war-foreign-minister-2022-03-20/) Wang’s comments came after U.S. President Joe Biden warned his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on Friday of “consequences” if Beijing gave material support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During the video call, Xi told Biden the war in Ukraine must end as soon as possible and called on NATO nations to hold a dialogue with Moscow. He did not, however, assign blame to Russia, according to Beijing’s statements about the call.

Commentary: ‘Mad’ president and European diplomacy

Finding a lost manuscript by Sigmund Freud has caused a French historian to revisit a key moment in European diplomacy 100 years ago that reverberates today as war returns to the continent. “Le President est-il devenu fou?” (Has the president gone mad?) by Patrick Weil takes a fresh look at US president Woodrow Wilson (1913-21), who helped forge the Treaty of Versailles after World War I and tried to establish lasting peace through the creation of the League of Nations. Whenever things went against Wilson, Weil writes, “he would plunge into hysteria”, blaming everyone but himself. Frequent minor strokes throughout Wilson’s life may also have affected his sanity and undermined his ability to conclude the deal. Back in the 1930s, Freud, the godfather of psychoanalysis, blamed Wilson’s failure on messianic hubris, rooted in his repressed homosexuality and obsession with his father. Certainly, many of his contemporaries, including British leader Winston Churchill and later US president Franklin Roosevelt, considered Wilson to be “crazy”, Weil told AFP in an interview. (https://news.yahoo.com/freud-mad-president-century-european-063155746.html) They kept that quiet, he said, because Wilson’s reputation was important in building momentum behind the creation of the United Nations after World War II. Wilson, of course, failed: the treaty’s harsh conditions on Germany created resentment that helped fuel the rise of the Nazis. Nor could he convince his colleagues in Washington to approve the treaty — it was never ratified by the US, dooming the League of Nations at birth.

Newsline: Chinese Diplomat Blames West for Ukraine Crisis

One of China’s top diplomats said the root cause of the crisis in Ukraine lies in the Cold War mentality of the West. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said on Saturday the crisis could have been avoided if the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had stuck to what he said was a promise not to expand eastward. He said NATO should have been dissolved after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Instead, Moscow had been cornered. With another move, NATO “would almost reach Moscow’s suburbs,” he said. “The pursuit for absolute security in fact leads to insecurity,” Mr. Le said in a speech at Tsinghua University in Beijing. “Pushing a major country, a nuclear power, to the corner would lead to dreadful consequences.” He also criticized the Western sanctions against Russia, saying they would hurt a world economy already in limbo. “Globalization should not be used as a weapon,” he said. (https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/russia-ukraine-latest-news-2022-03-18/card/chinese-diplomat-blames-west-for-ukraine-crisis-tbG9dUdkCjsyFXNpWJ5c) Mr. Le repeated the messages in Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s call with President Biden on Friday, and said the U.S. and NATO should also have dialogue with Russia to ease the security concerns.

Newsline: Irish representative to UN dies suddenly

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to Jim Kelly, a senior Irish diplomat representing Ireland at the United Nations, who has died suddenly. “It is with great sorrow that I learned of the sudden death of Ireland’s Ambassador, UN Deputy Permanent Representative Jim Kelly,” Mr Higgins said. (https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/irish-representative-to-un-jim-kelly-dies-suddenly-1.4830489) Mr Kelly (57) was Ireland’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, and previously served as ambassador to Canada. He served with distinction in several missions, as Ambassador to Canada, at Ireland’s Permanent Representation to the EU, at Ireland’s Embassy in Copenhagen, and in variety of roles in Dublin.