Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for April 14, 2022

Newsline: Ukraine flag projected on Russian embassy in D.C.

There was a geopolitical light show in D.C. where protesters projected the Ukraine flag onto the side of the Russian embassy. Footage making the rounds on social media also show a white spotlight, seemingly coming from embassy grounds, being used to white out that flag. A voice off-camera can be heard saying, “They’re trying to drown you out!” prompting the projectionist to move the Ukrainian flag all around the front of the embassy while the white spotlight tried to keep up. The Washington Post reports that the Ukrainian flag was beamed onto the embassy from across the street using 14 theater stage lights. (https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-ukraine-flag-russian-embassy-dc-20220414-cxmvpp3s7jeoxc6j3blkkrsyve-story.html) A similar protest against took place last month in Portugal when anti-war protestors shone a Ukrainian flag onto the Russian embassy in Lisbon.

Newsline: China’s diplomatic assurances criticized in New Zealand

New Zealand’s top court has ruled that a man can be extradited to China to face a murder charge, in what activists have called a “deeply disturbing precedent”. Kyung Yup Kim, a New Zealand permanent resident, is accused of murdering a young woman in Shanghai in 2009. Human rights groups say he faces an unfair trial or risk of human rights abuses under China’s judicial system. But New Zealand’s government says it has been assured this will not happen. Mr Kim has been fighting the move for over a decade, since Chinese authorities requested his extradition in 2011. His lawyer, Tony Ellis, told the BBC the government was “deluded” if they thought the diplomatic assurances they had received from China would protect Mr Kim from receiving ill treatment in Chinese custody. (https://news.yahoo.com/zealand-court-allow-extradition-china-063218029.html) Lawyers also claimed that Mr Kim could be subjected to undetectable forms of torture. New Zealand had at first refused to give Mr Kim up to China upon receiving the extradition request in 2011. However, the government changed its mind in 2015. It told the Supreme Court it had sought and secured assurances from Beijing that Mr Kim would be treated fairly. The diplomatic promises include that Mr Kim would be held in custody and trialled in Shanghai, and that New Zealand consulate officials would be able to visit Mr Kim every 48 hours during the investigation period. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the government.

Newsline: EU diplomat rules out oil embargo on Russia soon

European Union foreign ministers were not expected to discuss an oil embargo on Russia, a senior EU diplomat said. (https://uk.investing.com/news/commodities-news/oil-embargo-not-under-formal-discussion-at-next-eu-meeting-senior-diplomat-says-2622206) EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell had earlier said that banning oil imports from Russia would be discussed when ministers meet for the scheduled gathering, after the bloc moved to ban coal in a fifth package of sanctions. Lithuania as well as Ukraine itself are among the most vocal of EU member states in calling for a Russian oil embargo as the EU’s next step. Austria, Bulgaria, Germany and Hungary have so far resisted more discussion about banning Russian oil imports because of their dependency on the energy source. The EU diplomat said it was up to the European Commission, the EU executive, to decide when to come forward with a proposal.

Newsline: France’s top diplomat urges cooperation with Algeria after crisis

France’s top diplomat Jean-Yves Le Drian said cooperation with Algeria is “indispensible” for regional stability, during a visit to the former French colony. “We are facing regional challenges, first and foremost terrorism,” he said late Wednesday after meeting his counterpart Ramtane Lamamra and President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. “So our cooperation on security and for the stabilisation of the region is indispensable in the Mediterranean and in Africa.” (https://news.yahoo.com/frances-le-drian-urges-cooperation-131327956.html) France and Algeria have been attempting to improve their ties after a diplomatic crisis. Algeria had withdrawn its ambassador in October after French President Emmanuel Macron accused Algeria’s “political-military system” of rewriting history and fomenting “hatred towards France”. Le Drain had visited in December in order to repair the damage and the French ambassador returned in January.

Newsline: Singaporeans in Shanghai getting help on essential items from Consulate

Singaporeans in locked down Shanghai have been receiving help from the Singapore Consulate-General amid a surge in the COVID-19 pandemic. In a media statement, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesperson said the Singapore Consulate-General in Shanghai has been reaching out to Singaporeans during the lockdown in Shanghai and is in touch with the local authorities. The Consulate-General has been helping Singaporeans in the Chinese city to source for essential supplies or replenish medication, send food packs to those who are unable to obtain food on their own, and facilitate exit permits for Singaporeans to return to Singapore for urgent reasons. “Singaporeans who can still access delivery services may try purchasing essential supplies through online applications and participating in group buys within their residential compounds,” MFA said. (https://news.yahoo.com/singaporeans-shanghai-help-essential-items-consulate-general-mfa-142351497.html) The statement comes as Shanghai continues to maintain its draconian two-week lockdown with millions of residents unable to leave their homes and workers stuck in their workplaces. While the authorities have been sending food and other necessities to residents, many have complained that the supplies have been poorly organised and erratic.

Newsline: U.S. Special Envoy for Horn of Africa to step down soon

U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa David Satterfield will step down from his role before summer, sources familiar with the matter said, after less than six months on the job and at a time of persistent political turmoil in the region. (https://news.yahoo.com/u-special-envoy-horn-africa-033537592.html) Deputy Special Envoy Payton Knopf will take over the post in an acting capacity, sources said, adding that Satterfield’s departure was not imminent. Earlier, the State Department announced Satterfield and Knopf were set to arrive in Ethiopia on Wednesday, for meetings with Ethiopian government officials, representatives of humanitarian organizations, and diplomatic partners. The State Department had no official comment when asked about Satterfield’s departure. The news of Satterfield’s expected departure, first reported by the Foreign Policy magazine, comes at a time of multiple crises in the region. A more than year-long conflict in Ethiopia has sparked accusations of atrocities on both sides, while Sudan is in economic and political turmoil following an October coup.