Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 22, 2022

Newsline: Musical battle in Montreal between city councillor and Russian consulate

Every day around noon , Montreal city councillor Serge Sasseville walks from his home to the front gate of the Russian consulate across the street. He raises a speaker in front of him and presses play. Three times, he blasts the Ukrainian national anthem towards Russia’s diplomats. Between every song, he yells slogans in support of Ukraine or against Russia such as “Slava Ukraini” (glory to Ukraine), “Stop Putin now” or “Stop the war.” “I found a sung version of the Ukrainian anthem, so I go to the main door of the Russian consulate with my iPhone and a Bose speaker, I obviously put the volume to the maximum and I play it,” Sasseville said during an interview. But on Friday, the consulate seemingly decided to fight back. When Sasseville began his daily musical ritual, he says Russia’s employees fired back with a song of their own through a speaker built into the fence in front of their building. “They played some music I did not recognize full blast in an attempt to cover me up. So, I put my hand on top of their speaker and I kept playing music,” Sasseville said with a laugh. “I found that really special, we’ve gotten to the point of trying to musically censor me.” (https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/in-montreal-a-musical-battle-is-brewing-between-a-city-councillor-and-the-russian-consulate-across-the-street-from-his-home) On social media, Sasseville posted a picture showing the intercom speaker on the consulate’s fence he says was used to “perturb” his daily musical ritual. The intercom is surrounded by red paint thrown by protesters earlier in the week. Consulate staff did not respond to emailed questions from National Post.

Newsline: Freed UK-Iranian woman slams British diplomacy that left her jailed for 6 years

A British-Iranian charity worker held in Tehran for six years called on Monday for all “unjustly detained” prisoners in Iran to be freed, as she spoke publicly for the first time since her return home. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe thanked everyone involved in securing her release but said “the meaning of freedom is never going to be complete (until) such time that all of us who are unjustly detained in Iran are reunited with our families.” Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, and retired engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, flew home last week, at the same time as the UK government repaid a longstanding debt to Tehran. She described herself as “a pawn in the hands of two governments” and had been caught up in a wider dispute that had “nothing to do” with her. (https://www.timesofisrael.com/freed-uk-iranian-woman-slams-british-diplomacy-that-left-her-jailed-for-6-years/) Zaghari-Ratcliffe criticized UK diplomatic efforts over the years to get her out, during which time five foreign ministers promised to secure her release.

Newsline: Diplomacy between US, Russia coming to an end

Diplomatic sources in Moscow Monday said whatever remained of ties between Russia and the United States was on the verge of collapse after Washington’s Ambassador John Sullivan was handed “a demarche and a note of protest” in view of President Joseph Biden’s remarks calling Russian leader Vladimir Putin “a war criminal” amid the invasion of Ukraine. “On March 21, US Ambassador John Sullivan was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry where he was issued a demarche and handed a note of protest in connection with the recent unacceptable remarks by the head of the White House Joe Biden regarding the president of Russia,” the ministry said in a statement. Russian authorities insisted “such statements by the US president, which are unworthy of a statesman of such a high rank, bring Russian-US relations to the brink of breaking off.” “We have warned that hostile actions taken against Russia will receive a decisive and firm rebuff,” Moscow’s document went on. (https://en.mercopress.com/2022/03/22/diplomacy-between-us-russia-coming-to-an-end) Biden last week said Putin was a “war criminal” for launching an all-out invasion of Ukraine, which has caused numerous deaths and forced millions of people to flee their homes. The US Department of State later Monday that a meeting had taken place between Sullivan and the Russian government, during which Sullivan demanded that Moscow follow international law and called for consular access to US citizens detained in Russia.

Newsline: Iran Moves Its Ukraine Embassy To Moldovan Capital

Iran says its embassy in Ukraine will temporarily relocate to Moldova due to the Russian invasion of the country. The Embassy of the Islamic Republic in Kyiv issued a statement on Tuesday, announcing the temporary transfer of the embassy to the Moldovan capital. The statement said that “due to the ongoing war in Ukraine and the impossibility of continuing the embassy’s operations” the embassy moves to Chisinau “until the situation normalizes”. (https://www.iranintl.com/en/202203221258) About a month into the invasion, Russia continues its bombardment of several Ukrainian cities while its troops and artillery remain on the outskirts of Kyiv. Dozens of Iranian students stranded in the first week of invasion in Ukraine later left the country via land corridors to Romania and other Eastern European countries.

Newsline: US ambassador to Germany slams China over Ukraine stance

The new US ambassador to Germany on Monday accused China of taking President Vladimir Putin’s side in the Ukraine conflict as Beijing refuses to condemn Russia over the crisis. “President Xi (Jinping) says he’s being neutral in this conflict. There is no neutrality in this conflict,” said Amy Gutmann, who was confirmed as the US ambassador under President Joe Biden last month after tumultuous years with Donald Trump’s envoy. “Not to denounce Mr Putin’s aggression as aggression… is taking a side. China is taking Mr Putin’s side in this conflict,” Gutmann told journalists at the US embassy in Berlin. (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/us-ambassador-to-germany-slams-china-over-ukraine-stance/ar-AAVkUlN) Gutmann, 72, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, was confirmed as the new ambassador to Germany by the US Senate in February. The United States had previously been represented in Berlin by Trump ally Richard Grenell, who raised hackles in Germany with a combative approach, including vowing to empower anti-establishment right-wingers in Europe.

Newsline: Turkmenistan becomes first Central Asian country to recognise Taliban envoy to Afghan embassy in Ashgabat

Turkmenistan becomes the first country in Central Asia to accept a Taliban-appointed Afghanistan ambassador, since the Taliban regime took over Kabul in August 2021. The inauguration ceremony of the new Taliban-led Afghan ambassador Fazil-Mohammad Saber took place in Ashgabat, Fergana news agency reported. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/turkmenistan-becomes-first-central-asian-country-to-recognise-taliban-envoy-to-afghan-embassy-in-ashgabat/ar-AAVlpB5) Turkmenistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vepa Hajiyev attended the ceremony to mark the inauguration of the new ambassador.