Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 28, 2022

Newsline: Iran Concerns Prompt Mideast Diplomacy Realignment

After years of trying to foster new alliances between Israel and Arab states, the U.S. is now witnessing deep shifts in the Middle East. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2022-03-28/iran-concerns-prompt-mideast-diplomacy-realignment) U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Morocco took part in a landmark meeting in Israel, amid intense regional concerns over talks to restore the nuclear deal with arch-rival Iran. Washington is now witnessing deep shifts in the Middle East and the ripple effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Newsline: Russia’s top diplomat pledges to bar entry for people from “unfriendly” nations

Russia said on Monday it was preparing to restrict entry into Russia for nationals of “unfriendly” countries, which include Britain, all European Union states and the United States. “A draft presidential decree is being developed on retaliatory visa measures in response to the unfriendly actions of a number of foreign states,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in televised remarks. “This act will introduce a number of restrictions on entry into Russia.” (https://news.yahoo.com/russia-bar-entry-people-growing-152450701.html) Russia’s top diplomat provided no elaboration on the precise measures being developed. After the West piled unprecedented sanctions on Moscow following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops into pro-Western Ukraine, Russia expanded the list of what it calls “unfriendly” countries. They now include the United States, Australia, Canada, Britain, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, all EU member states and several others.

Newsline: North Macedonia orders expulsion of five Russian diplomats

North Macedonia has ordered the expulsion of five Russian diplomats from the country, according to its foreign ministry, following a string of similar moves made by the United States and several European Union member states. The Balkan country’s foreign ministry said on Monday that the individuals had five days to leave its territory, adding that they violated diplomatic norms. “The listed [diplomats] were executing activities which are contrary to the Vienna Convention for diplomatic relations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday, referring to the international treaty that includes agreements related to diplomatic protocols. “There will be an adequate response” from Russia to North Macedonia’s decision, Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing a source in the Russian embassy in Skopje. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/28/north-macedonia-orders-expulsion-of-five-russian-diplomats) The incident marks the latest expulsion of Russian diplomats from Western countries following a string of similar moves made in the US, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and other Baltic states earlier this month.

Newsline: Russia says 45 of its diplomats expelled by Poland left the country

Russia’s ambassador to Poland, Sergei Andreev, said on Monday that 45 Russian diplomats expelled by Poland have now left the country, TASS news agency quoted him as saying. (https://news.yahoo.com/russia-says-45-diplomats-expelled-095947841.html) Poland last week expelled 45 Russian diplomats suspected of working for Russian intelligence, accusations Moscow has dismissed as baseless.

Newsline: US diplomats work double-time to walk back Biden’s Putin ‘cannot remain in power’ remark

President Biden’s off-the-cuff remark that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” was walked back on Sunday, as some warned that his comment was even more provocative than sending fighter jets into Ukraine. Biden turned heads at the end of his Saturday speech in Poland, during which he spoke about efforts to support the people of Ukraine, who have been under a relentless attack from Russia. “For God’s sake, this man (Putin) cannot remain in power,” Biden said in the eyebrow-raising remark. The White House and Biden’s cabinet have been downplaying the comment, claiming that Biden meant Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over the region. Biden was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia or regime change, according to the White House. “President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a press conference in Israel. “… We do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia or anywhere else, for that matter,” he added. “In this case, as in any case, it’s up to the people of the country in question. It’s up to the Russian people.” (https://www.bostonherald.com/2022/03/27/diplomats-work-double-time-to-walk-back-bidens-putin-cannot-remain-in-power-remark/) U.S. Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith on Sunday echoed Blinken’s comments. She noted that Biden had spent the day visiting with Ukrainian refugees, and delivered a “principled human reaction.”

Newsline: ‘Historic’ Arab-Israeli diplomacy

Out here in the Negev desert, the Israeli government says, history is being made. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is hosting for the first time on Israeli soil the foreign ministers of four Arab countries that now have close ties with the Jewish state — a new reality for a region realigned in recent years, especially by the threat from Iran. (https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/blinken-attends-historic-israeli-arab-summit-amid-iran/story?id=83701822) U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will join them for what Israel calls the Negev summit, but only after an evening of meetings with Palestinian leadership, including President Mahmoud Abbas, and civil society Sunday. While these new Arab-Israeli ties have been heralded for bringing peace and stability, they have left the Palestinians behind and done little to address the decades-old tensions there. Monday’s meeting brings together Israel and the U.S. with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco — all members of the new accords. Egypt, which established ties with Israel over 40 years ago in a U.S.-brokered deal, will also attend, although Jordan, which established ties in a 1994 U.S. deal, is not attending. Sudan, which was part of the accords, will not either, after a military coup last fall derailed its transition to a civilian-led democracy. Monday’s meetings is a delicate dance for Blinken — seeking to embrace the peaceful face of the Abraham Accords, while tempering the growing anti-Iran alliance as his team tries to complete a renewed Iran nuclear deal.