Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 24, 2022

Newsline: Russian ambassador to U.S. says mission’s work ‘blockaded’

The working of the Russian embassy in Washington is “blockaded”, with its bank accounts closed and staff receiving threats, state news agency RIA cited ambassador Anatoly Antonov as saying on Sunday. “The embassy is in essence blockaded by U.S. government entities. Accounts of our two consulates in Houston and New York have been closed by Bank of America,” Antonov was quoted as saying. “We receive threats both by phone and letters come… At some point even the exit from the embassy was blocked,” he added. (https://news.yahoo.com/russian-ambassador-u-says-missions-104716128.html) Russia and the United States had been locked in a dispute over the size and functioning of their respective diplomatic missions long before President Vladimir Putin launched what he calls his “special military operation” against Ukraine on Feb. 24. Since then, Russian embassies in Europe have also come under pressure and more than 300 Russian staff have been expelled from European capitals, prompting Moscow to kick out foreign diplomats in response.

Newsline: Sacked embassy guard says UAE tried to ‘influence’ UK ministers

The United Arab Emirates tried to “influence” Government ministers to “mislead” the British public about important international affairs, a sacked embassy bodyguard claims. Conservative politicians including Ben Wallace and Gavin Williamson, the current and former defence secretaries, Leo Docherty, the military veterans minister, and Alistair Burt, the former minister for the Middle East, were named as alleged targets of the Gulf state in legal court papers seen by the Telegraph. Lee Hurford, a close protection officer to the former ambassador, Sulaiman Almazroui, at the London embassy, has also claimed the UAE “paid” a company to “monitor” Jeremy Corbyn, the then leader of the opposition. He also alleges the Gulf state attempted to “discredit” Al Jazeera, the 24-hour Middle East news channel, and to “undermine” the Free Princess Latifa Campaign, a group trying to help the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE prime minister, who fled from her family but was seized and brought back to Dubai four years ago. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/04/23/uae-tried-influence-tory-ministers-mislead-public-sacked-embassy/) The bodyguard’s allegations form part of a defence bundle lawyers prepared after he was accused of conspiring to blackmail the former ambassador.

Newsline: U.S. embassies and consulates working to increase appointments for Ukrainians

The State Department, a senior administration official said, is working to track down 18,000 Ukrainians who had entered the U.S. refugee pipeline before the Russian invasion under the so-called Lautenberg program, which allows religious minorities in former Soviet republics to obtain expedited U.S. resettlement. U.S. refugee resettlement staff who relocated to Moldova after their Kyiv post was closed due to the war have identified “a number” of Ukrainians in eastern Europe who have pending Lautenberg program cases, the official said. (https://news.yahoo.com/u-unveils-sponsorship-program-resettle-133000480.html) Administration officials said U.S. embassies and consulates are also working to increase appointments for Ukrainians seeking temporary U.S. visas and to expedite cases of Ukrainians with urgent humanitarian, medical or otherwise “extraordinary” needs. While the U.S. set out to resettle up to 125,000 refugees from across the globe in fiscal year 2022, fewer than 9,000 refugees have been admitted so far, State Department figures show. In March, just a dozen Ukrainians entered the U.S. as refugees.