Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 30, 2022

Newsline: Russia’s Sanctioned Superyachts Seen As New Platforms For US Indo-Pacific Diplomacy

Now the West sanctions and sweeps up Russia’s high-end cruise ships, Russia’s luxe armada can go to work for the West as roving diplomatic posts or globe-spanning Presidential and Royal yachts. Putin’s flamboyant fleet served as unregulated floating embassies, offering Russians instant respectability, good security, and access to all the types of people Russia needed to make good things happen for the Russian state. But Russia’s water party is over. Many sanctioned Russian yachts are trapped in boatyards or otherwise stuck, are getting impounded and seized by Western authorities. Rather than take a moment to figure out how these unexpected new assets might be employed, Western authorities seem content to just shuffle these one-of-a-kind platforms “off the books” as soon as possible. The abrupt divestment is bad business. With the Russian State out of the luxe vessel market, the ships will likely sell for pennies on the dollar. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/craighooper/2022/04/30/russias-sanctioned-superyachts-new-platforms-for-indo-pacific-diplomacy/) The United States needs extra diplomatic presence in the South Pacific right away. In the strategically-located Solomons Islands—an island chain perched between the United States and Australia, Chinese diplomats exploited Western disinterest in the small, impoverished country, enticing the Solomons Islands into agreements that likely offers China an avenue to establish a forward military presence there. Lacking effective diplomatic representation, the United States was caught by surprise, and rushed a delegation to the country, promising, among other things, to re-open a long-closed U.S. embassy. Reopening the Solomons Islands embassy will take too long. But turning a luxury yacht into an ersatz floating embassy can be done quite quickly, and American diplomats, sailing aboard the luxury platform, can do an enormous amount of regional influencing in a way that China will be hard-pressed to match. The operational costs of deploying a luxury yacht into the southern oceans is tiny in comparison to the expense of losing out to better-established diplomatic rivals. The State Department will never have access to a well-appointed luxury yacht again.

Newsline: US, Mexican presidents confer on migration, diplomacy

President Joe Biden and Mexico’s Andres Manuel López Obrador agreed in a phone call Friday to do more to promote “just, humane and effective efforts to reduce irregular migration” at the southern border, the White House reported after their nearly hourlong conversation. López Obrador tweeted that the conversation was “cordial” and that they “spoke of issues of interest to the bilateral relationship.” The agenda also included the upcoming Summit of the Americas in June in Los Angeles, and the end of coronavirus restrictions on asylum seekers trying to come to the U.S. (https://www.mrt.com/news/article/Migration-a-top-focus-for-Biden-call-with-Mexican-17136628.php) The two leaders also talked about addressing the root causes of migration through development initiatives in Central America and Mexico, according to a statement from the Mexican president’s office. They discussed the need to guarantee safe and sustainable ways of life for their citizens and migrants, as well as expanding legal pathways for migrants and refugees.

Newsline: Foreign Office told British rape victim to ‘carry on with holiday and enjoy it’

A British rape victim in Turkey was told to “carry on with her holiday and enjoy it” by a Foreign Office official, the public services watchdog has found. She received a message from the Vice Consul which said: “What you now have to do is to carry on with your holiday and enjoy it.” (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/04/29/british-rape-victim-told-carry-holiday-enjoy-foreign-office/) The young woman, known only as Ms B, was denied the opportunity to take legal action because she was given incorrect information by the Government department, according to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

Newsline: Russian Diplomats Owe New York City Over $101K for Unpaid Parking Tickets

Several Russian diplomats reportedly owe the state of New York over $101,000 in parking tickets and fees, according to a report from NBC New York. Now, the state of New York has begun to suspend vehicle registrations for diplomats who have avoided paying parking fees for years. According to New York City’s database of open parking violations, Russia reportedly has 46 unpaid parking tickets registered to diplomatic vehicles dating back to 2003 that have gone unpaid, and an NBC New York analysis of several summonses shows the fines reach $101,000. A State Department spokesperson told NBC New York that three or more unpaid parking violations cause a country’s suspension from registering any more diplomatic vehicles and licenses. NBC New York also reported that the State Department has held up at least two dozen Russian registrations. (https://www.newsweek.com/russian-diplomats-owe-new-york-city-over-101k-unpaid-parking-tickets-1702295) Russia will be unable to renew any of its diplomatic license plates in the U.S. until they pay the outstanding fees. A statement to NBC New York from the State Department also said that this treatment applies to all United Nations members who have unpaid parking tickets.