Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 16, 2022

Newsline: Taiwan says China’s threats will only increase diplomatic support for island

China’s military threats against Taiwan will only increase support for the island from the United States and other democracies, the foreign ministry said after China conducted drills nearby as U.S. lawmakers visited Taipei. Beijing blamed the lawmakers, who included chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez, for raising tensions with their “provocative” trip. China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory. In a statement late on Friday, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry condemned China’s “recalcitrant and ridiculous” reaction to the two-visit, the first by a group of U.S. lawmakers this year. “The threat of force by the Chinese Communist Party’s totalitarian government against Taiwan will only strengthen the Taiwanese people’s will to defend freedom and democracy, and will also attract support for democratic Taiwan from the United States and even more democratic partners,” it said. Taiwan will continue to deepen cooperation with the United States and other like-minded countries to defend the free and open Indo-Pacific region, and prevent China’s “continuous expansion”, the ministry said. (https://news.yahoo.com/taiwan-says-chinas-threats-only-055501693.html) Senator Ben Sasse, one of the six bipartisan lawmakers who visited Taiwan and met President Tsai Ing-wen, said in a statement that China could not bully the United States or its elected representatives.

Newsline: Taliban authorities summon Pakistani envoy to protest military strikes

Taliban authorities on Saturday summoned Pakistan’s ambassador in Kabul to protest against military strikes inside Afghanistan by Pakistani forces, the Afghan foreign ministry said. A local Taliban official and residents said 36 people were killed in air strikes on Friday by Pakistani aircraft entering Afghan airspace. Pakistan denied it carried out the strikes. Islamabad claims militants carry out attacks inside Pakistan by crossing its lawless western border with Afghanistan. Taliban authorities say they have controlled the attacks since taking over the country in August last year. A statement from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Pakistan’s Ambassador in Kabul had been summoned over the recent attacks in Khost and Kunar provinces and given a diplomatic demarche to deliver to Islamabad. “Military violations including those in Khost and Kunar must be prevented as such acts deteriorate relations … allowing antagonists to misuse the situation leading to undesired consequences,” the statement quoted acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi as saying. (https://www.investing.com/news/world-news/taliban-authorities-summon-pakistani-envoy-to-protest-military-strikes-2804857) The statement did not elaborate on the nature of the strikes, but a local Taliban leader in Khost, Mawlawi Mohammad Raes Helal, said two districts were bombed by Pakistani helicopters and that 36 people had been killed. The Pakistan embassy spokesman denied there had been air strikes and told Reuters the ambassador and Taliban authorities discussed a resolution of border issues. There was no official confirmation of the death toll.

Newsline: Russian embassy in Bosnia warns of destabilization

The Russian embassy in Bosnia criticized the suspension of a Bosnian Serb property law and warned of potential destabilization in the tense Balkan country unless the decision by the top international official is revoked. The embassy in a statement carried by local media reiterated that Moscow does not recognize German diplomat Christian Schmidt as the head of the U.N. Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and considers his moves illegitimate. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/russian-embassy-in-bosnia-warns-of-destabilization/2022/04/13/9e393eba-bb12-11ec-a92d-c763de818c21_story.html) The Russian comments highlight a dispute with the West over policies in the volatile Balkans where Moscow has sought to increase its historic sway. With war raging in Ukraine, there have been fears of tensions soaring in the Balkans as well.

Newsline: Japan’s Shanghai consul airs concerns over virus curbs

Japan’s top representative in Shanghai urged China’s most populous city to address concerns of Japanese businesses over losses and other disruptions caused by lockdowns aimed at containing a COVID-19 surge. Consul General Shuichi Akamatsu’s letter, posted on the consulate’s website on Saturday, comes as most of Shanghai’s 25 million residents remain under strict lockdowns. The city reported a record 3,590 symptomatic cases on Saturday. Akamatsu acknowledged the city’s efforts at curbing the spread of the coronavirus in the letter to the vice mayor, dated Friday. “However, with the extension of virus control measures, the situation of production and operations not being able to function normally has already lasted for more than a month,” he said. “The impact on business activities is clearly becoming more severe by the day.” “There is no room for optimism about the current reality,” he said, adding that a lack of information about when lockdowns will end has made it impossible for companies to conduct business. (https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-china-japan-idUSL2N2WE035) The U.S. State Department on Monday ordered non-emergency U.S. government workers to leave the consulate due to surging virus numbers and China’s measures to control its spread. The Shanghai government did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters on Saturday. China’s foreign ministry has termed State Department concerns over coronavirus control measures in Shanghai “groundless accusations”.

Newsline: Russian embassy in Washington delivers diplomatic protest

The Russian embassy in Washington delivered a diplomatic protest known as a démarche to the Department of State threatening “unpredictable consequences” unless the U.S. stops shipping advanced weapons to Ukraine. (https://www.rawstory.com/vladimir-putin-2657165030/) The Russian threat came on the heels of a warning by CIA Director William J. Burns that Putin might resort to the use of tactical nuclear weapons to counter his losses on the battlefield and now the high seas. “Given the potential desperation of President Putin and the Russian leadership, given the setbacks that they’ve faced so far, militarily, none of us can take lightly the threat posed by a potential resort to tactical nuclear weapons or low-yield nuclear weapons,” Burns said in answer to a question from former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia. Burns is a former ambassador to Russia who dealt directly with Putin while serving in Moscow and is the Biden administration official most familiar with his thinking.

Newsline: Diplomat says Ukraine working with Turkey

Ukraine is working with NATO member Turkey as much as possible for more support over Russia’s invasion and understands – even though it is not happy with – the reality of Ankara’s parallel ties to Moscow, a Ukrainian diplomat said. Ankara has criticised the invasion and sold drones to Kyiv despite Russian objections. But it has also opposed Western sanctions against Moscow and maintained a careful rhetoric by refraining from accusing either country over the conflict, even amid reports of war crimes in parts of Ukraine. We would be happy if Turkey joined the sanctions” and cut flights from Russia. “But we understand this reality,” the diplomat told foreign journalists on Friday on condition of anonymity. “…Instead of criticising Turkey we are working with the Turkish side as much as possible, and not demanding something that is improbable,” the person added, noting that it was still the only country that had managed to bring together Russian and Ukrainian officials for peace talks. (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-working-with-turkey-understands-parallel-ties-russia-ukrainian-diplomat-2022-04-16/) Turkey, which relies heavily on Russian energy imports and tourists, has emerged as a safe haven for Russians fleeing fallout from the sanctions, and many have invested in Turkish property.

Newsline: Italian and French Embassies to Reopen in Kyiv, U.S. Embassy remains closed

Italian Ambassador Pier Francesco Zazo has returned to Kyiv to reopen the country’s embassy, Italy said Friday, joining a host of nations to return to the Ukrainian capital after Russia abandoned its effort to capture the city. Italy had moved its diplomatic operation to Poland in March. The embassy will be fully operational from Monday, said Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. “It is the symbol of an Italy that wastes no time, never stops believing in diplomacy and persistently seeks peace,” he said. French diplomats will also return to Kyiv, shifting the embassy back to the capital from Lviv, the western Ukrainian city where it has been based since early March, the French Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. (https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/russia-ukraine-latest-news-2022-04-15/card/italian-and-french-embassies-to-reopen-in-kyiv-after-russian-pullback-S94PMJmGbJRdeQ2bazl1) Countries that have reestablished a diplomatic presence in Kyiv include Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Turkey, as well as officials representing the European Union. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv will remain closed for the foreseeable future and the U.S.’s diplomatic presence in Ukraine will be reestablished only when it is safe to do so, a State Department spokesman said Thursday.