Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 4, 2022

Newsline: Lithuania expels Russia’s ambassador

Lithuania on Monday announced that it will expel Russia’s ambassador and recall its envoy in Moscow in reaction to increasing signs that Russian forces may have committed war crimes in Ukraine. “Lithuania strongly condemned the atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces in occupied Ukrainian cities, including the brutal massacres in Bucha. All war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian armed forces in Ukraine will not be forgotten,” Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said Monday. (https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/04/04/live-updates-germany-to-expel-40-russian-diplomats/) He added that Lithuania’s ambassador to Ukraine was returning to Kyiv and that Lithuania’s European Union and NATO partners have been informed of its decision to expel the Russian ambassador. He called on them to do the same. In neighboring Latvia, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said that Riga will narrow diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation, according to the Baltic News Service. No decision was made regarding reducing the ties.

Newsline: Germany to expel 40 Russian diplomats

Germany is expelling 40 Russian diplomats in response to the killings in Bucha and says further measures with partners are being prepared. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Monday the images received from the Ukrainian town following the withdrawal of Russian troops “shows an intent to destroy that goes beyond all boundaries.” She said the Russian diplomats expelled “have worked here in Germany every day against our freedom, against the cohesion of our society” and that their work is “a threat to those who seek protection with us.” Baerbock said she told the Russian ambassador “we will not tolerate this any longer.” (https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/04/04/live-updates-germany-to-expel-40-russian-diplomats/) The German top diplomat said “we must fear similar images from many other places occupied by Russian troops in Ukraine” and that “we must counter this inhumanity with the strength of our freedom and our humanity.” She added “it must also be clear that we must stand up for our freedom and be prepared to defend it.”

Newsline: U.S. Ambassador to UN calls for Russia to be suspend from Human Rights Council

The United States plans to seek a suspension of Russia from its seat on the U.N.’s top human rights body in the wake of rising signs that Russian forces may have committed war crimes in Ukraine, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Monday. According to a statement from her office, Thomas-Greenfield made the call for Russia to be stripped of its seat in the Human Rights Council in the wake of reports over the weekend about violence against civilians in the town of Bucha, near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, after Russian forces pulled out. (https://www.whio.com/news/world/live-updates/2Q2YZ36RGVCJTHW3N6CHTMFE6Y/) Any decision to suspend Russia would require a decision by the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Russia and the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, China, France and the United States — all currently have seats on the 47-member rights council, which is based in Geneva. The United States rejoined the council this year.

Newsline: Arab top diplomats travel to Moscow

Five Arab foreign ministers have traveled to Moscow for talks with Russia’s top diplomat on the war in Ukraine. The Arab League says the foreign ministers of Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan and Sudan will meet Monday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Ahemd Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, will also join the meeting. (https://www.whio.com/news/world/live-updates/2Q2YZ36RGVCJTHW3N6CHTMFE6Y/) The pan-Arab organization says the ministers will then travel to Poland on Tuesday for talks with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Newsline: Western diplomats ask China not to separate COVID-positive children from parents

Western diplomats have expressed concern about separating children from their parents as part of COVID curbs – a situation that has arisen in Shanghai as the government tries to stamp out the spread of the virus. The city has been separating COVID-positive children from their parents, citing epidemic prevention requirements, which has prompted a widespread public outcry. Diplomats from more than 30 countries have written to the Chinese foreign ministry urging authorities not to take such a step. “We request that under no circumstances should parents and children be separated,” said a letter written by the French consulate in Shanghai that was addressed to the foreign affairs office of Shanghai on March 31. In a separate letter to the Chinese foreign ministry dated the same day, the British embassy in Beijing said it was concerned by “recent instances when local authorities have sought to separate minors who tested positive for COVID-19 from their parents” and requested assurances that this would not happen to diplomatic staff. (https://news.yahoo.com/western-diplomats-ask-china-not-083448973.html) The French consulate and British embassy both said they were writing the letters on behalf of other countries, including European Union states as well as others including Norway, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand after hearing about difficulties caused by Shanghai’s lockdown, which the city started carrying out in two stages starting March 28. Asymptomatic or mild cases should be sent to “a specialized isolation environment with staff who can communicate in English,” said the French consulate letter, a copy of which Reuters has seen and verified with two sources. Currently, asymptomatic cases are sent to centralised quarantine centres, some of which have been described as unsanitary and overcrowded. The French consulate declined to comment on the letter. The Australian Consulate General in Shanghai, which was cited in the letters, also declined to comment but said it had been engaging with local authorities on the COVID-19 restrictions. The U.S. did not appear as a signatory on either letter. However, the U.S. Consul General in Shanghai, Jim Heller, told members of a private chat group for U.S. citizens that the consulate had been underscoring many of the concerns raised by the European letter with the Shanghai government. Other countries, such as Norway, Switzerland and New Zealand, which were mentioned in the letters, did not respond to requests for comment. The Chinese foreign ministry also did not respond to a request for comment.

Newsline: UK’s Top Diplomat to Call for Tougher Sanctions Against Russia in Poland Visit

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will visit Poland on Monday to call for tougher action to tackle Russian aggression and to support Ukraine in peace talks, her office said in a statement. “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is yet to show he is serious about diplomacy. A tough approach from the UK and our allies is vital to strengthen Ukraine’s hand in negotiations,” Truss said. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-04-04/uks-truss-to-call-for-tougher-sanctions-against-russia-in-poland-visit) Britain has coordinated with international allies to impose sanctions on key Russian industries and Moscow’s wealthy elites with the aim of crippling its economy in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The British government has argued that sanctions need to go further.

Newsline: US embassy in Pakistan accused of interference

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan shared more details about the threat he said he had been facing since early last month. In remarks that were televised, he told them that when the National Security Council (NSC) had condemned the involvement of an external force in no-trust resolution, counting (of votes on the motion) had become “irrelevant”. The premier said he had reports that PTI dissidents had frequented the (US) embassy. “What were the reasons that the people, who have left us, met people of the embassy frequently in the last few days?” he wondered. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/imran-says-he-had-reports-that-dissidents-frequented-us-embassy/ar-AAVOVLO?li=CCqKrn) Khan revealed that the US had sent a threatening message through Pakistan’s envoy. He was quoted as saying that US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu had reportedly in a meeting with Ambassador Asad Majeed warned there could be implications if he survived the opposition’s no-confidence motion in the National Assembly, Dawn reported.

Newsline: U.S., U.K. wary as Russia praises India’s neutrality on Ukraine

A flurry of visits by Russian and Western diplomats is unlikely to change India’s neutral stance on the war in Ukraine, experts say, particularly since the war has the support of a public being bombarded by media coverage that blames the U.S. for the conflict. While U.S. and British officials in New Delhi this week pressured India to condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov praised the government for not taking a “one-sided view.” “We appreciate that India is taking this situation in the entirety of facts,” Lavrov said Friday after meeting with his counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, in the Indian capital. (https://news.yahoo.com/russia-west-court-india-no-083017515.html) Lavrov also said India and Russia would use a rupee-ruble mechanism so they could continue their trade in oil and other goods despite Western sanctions against U.S.-dollar transactions with Moscow. A day earlier, a U.S. official said that while Washington is not opposed to India buying Russian oil, which is being steeply discounted after the U.S., Britain and other countries declared embargoes, it does not want to see a “rapid acceleration” in such imports. Like China, India has called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict but abstained from voting on U.N. resolutions critical of Russia’s actions. That gives confidence to smaller countries in Asia and elsewhere that are also trying to balance their relations with world powers.