Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 7, 2022

Newsline: Russia removed from UN Human Rights Council

The United Nations has voted 93 to 24 to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. The vote came after a push from the US, with the draft text for the vote expressing “grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.” (https://news.yahoo.com/russia-removed-from-un-human-rights-council-after-vote-162601678.html) 58 nations abstained from the vote. A two-thirds majority of voting members in the 193-member General Assembly in New York was needed to suspend Russia from the 47-member Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

Newsline: US diplomat says Mediterranean gas pipeline to Europe not viable

A proposed pipeline to deliver natural gas from deposits in the east Mediterranean to European markets is too expensive, not economically viable and will take too long to help countries seeking alternatives to Russian gas any time soon, a senior U.S. diplomat said Thursday. U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said after talks with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades that countries in the region have understood that dependence on Russian oil and gas is “an extremely bad bet” following its invasion of Ukraine. But she said the proposed East Med pipeline project wouldn’t be able to immediately deliver the gas Europe now needs to swiftly wean itself of Russian energy because it would run in very deep water and construction would take more than a decade. “And frankly, we don’t have 10 years, but in 10 years from now, we want to be far, far more green and far more diverse” in energy sources, Nuland said. (https://news.yahoo.com/us-diplomat-mediterranean-gas-pipeline-093244257.html) The idea for the 1,900-kilometer (1,300-mile), $6 billion pipeline to send natural gas — which is used to heat homes, generate electricity and keep industry churning — from recently discovered deposits off Israel and Cyprus was spawned several years ago between European Union members Greece and Cyprus, whose leaders signed a deal in 2020 to proceed with its planning. Nuland’s remarks appear to effectively shelve the project. Nuland said the U.S. and regional partners including Israel, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey are looking for alternative ways to get gas to markets.

Newsline: France summons Russia’s ambassador

France has summoned Russia’s ambassador over his tweet suggesting that images of civilians killed in Ukraine’s town of Bucha were staged. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the tweet “indecent.” Thursday’s tweet, which was later removed but had already been reprinted by numerous French media, showed a street in Bucha with a knocked-out tank and numerous journalists, under the caption “film set.” Le Drian denounced the “indecency and the provocation” of the Russian Embassy in France, vowing to “continue to fight all Russian manipulation of information on the war in Ukraine.” (https://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/world/live-updates/5DRCW6HYNQOKYLX6IFKGTA5NWM/) Last month, Ambassador Alexei Mechkov was summoned for a tweet showing caricatures that the French called “unacceptable.”

Newsline: Top diplomat eyes new EU sanctions on Russia Thursday or Friday

A fifth round of European Union sanctions on Russia, including a ban on coal imports, could be agreed by the bloc on Thursday or on Friday, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said. (https://news.yahoo.com/eu-sanctions-russia-could-agreed-061209162.html) “Maybe this afternoon, or tomorrow at the latest,” he told reporters as he arrived at a NATO meeting.

Newsline: Austria expelling four Russian diplomats

Austria is expelling four Russian diplomats for behaviour incompatible with their diplomatic status, a spokeswoman for its foreign minister said on Thursday, joining a group of European Union countries that have taken similar action this week. Unlike those other EU countries, which include France, Italy and Germany, the spokeswoman for Alexander Schallenberg did not say the move was because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The three diplomats working at Russia’s embassy and one based in Salzburg must leave Austria by Tuesday, she said. “The (four) people have acted in a way that is inconsistent with their diplomatic status,” the spokeswoman said in a short statement without elaborating. That phrase is usually used to refer to spying. (https://news.yahoo.com/austria-says-expelling-four-russian-063905245.html) Sweden, Denmark, Greece and Romania are also among the EU countries that have announced this week they are expelling Russian diplomats over the war in Ukraine.

Newsline: U.S. Consulate Staff In China Help Marines Running Low On Rations

Generous colleagues helped out seven U.S. Marines at the U.S. consulate in Shanghai who were running out of fresh food because of a strict coronavirus lockdown, according to posts in private consulate message groups. Shanghai has been hit by food shortages as the citywide lockdown puts pressure on delivery staff amid surging COVID-19 numbers. A U.S. consulate employee issued a plea on the WeChat platform for staff to spare some food for the Marines. He was not acting in an official capacity, a person with knowledge of the matter said. “Marines have depleted their food and can no longer get delivery,” the employee told colleagues living in Shanghai. The Marines only had vacuum-sealed rations left, the employee said in the message, seen by Reuters and verified by two people. “I know we are all running short on supplies. If you can spare a meal’s worth or two for 7 extra mouths, they’d be very appreciative,” the employee said. Staff responded with supplies, a person said in a later message, adding: “The marines are beyond thankful.” (https://www.ibtimes.com/us-consulate-staff-china-help-marines-running-low-rations-3463734) The U.S. consulate in Shanghai declined to comment on the Marines and their rations. “We are actively working with and assisting our citizens experiencing disruptions related to recent COVID-19 outbreaks in China,” the mission said in a statement. Marines guard U.S. diplomatic missions around the world.