Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 24, 2022

Newsline: Kremlin says Russian diplomat who resigned is now ‘against us’

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov says that the Russian diplomat who resigned from his position and penned a letter publicly decrying the invasion of Ukraine is “no longer with us,” but “against us.” “Here we can only say that Mr. Bondarev is no longer with us, rather, he is against us,” said Peskov when asked of Bondarev’s resignation by CNN. (https://news.yahoo.com/kremlin-says-russian-diplomat-resigned-143517804.html) Bondarev’s condemnation was seen as unprecedented criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by a Moscow official. Boris Bondarev, a Russian working with the United Nations in Geneva, sent in his resignation Monday, saying that he had “never been so ashamed” of his country as during the Ukrainian invasion. In his letter, Bondarev slammed the propagation of “lies and unprofessionalism” at Russia’s Foreign Ministry. The Kremlin has largely cracked down on anyone in Russia voicing dissent about the war in Ukraine or expressing sentiment that conflicts with the government’s version of events.

Newsline: Turkish top diplomat pledges support for Palestinians

Turkey’s foreign minister said Tuesday that improved ties with Israel will not come at the expense of its commitment to supporting the Palestinians and the two-state solution to the conflict.“We are leading the normalization process in coordination with Palestinian authorities,” Cavusoglu said. “Our support for the Palestinian cause is completely independent of the course of our relations with Israel.” Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke in the Palestinian administrative headquarters in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank during a joint press conference with his Palestinian counterpart, Riad Malki. (https://news.yahoo.com/west-bank-turkish-fm-pledges-140858225.html) Cavusoglu’s meeting with Palestinian officials comes a day before he makes a landmark visit to Israel. It would be the first visit to the region by a senior Turkish official in 15 years. The foreign minister’s visit to Israel is another sign of efforts by the two former allies to improve long strained relations. Earlier this year, Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, the first official visit by an Israeli leader in 14 years. Turkey and Israel once were close allies but relations grew strained under Erdogan, who is an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Israel also has been angered by Erdogan’s embrace of Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. The countries withdrew their respective ambassadors in 2010 after Israeli forces stormed a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians that broke an Israeli blockade. The incident resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists. Relations broke down again in 2018 when Turkey, angered by the U.S. moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, once more recalled its ambassador, prompting Israel to respond in kind. The two countries have not reappointed their ambassadors. On Wednesday, Cavusoglu will meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, visit Israel’s main Holocaust memorial and pay a private visit to Jerusalem’s flashpoint holy site, known to Muslims as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Newsline: China lashes out at US-led Asia-Pacific trade diplomacy

China has lashed out at a trade initiative led by the US, which aims to establish mutually agreed standards in four key areas including the digital economy and supply chains. Beijing has described the move as the Biden administration’s attempts to “contain” China and create divisions. (https://www.zdnet.com/article/china-lashes-out-at-us-led-asia-pacific-trade-framework/) The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) was launched on Monday with 12 participating nations from the region, including Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia and Japan. This group accounted for 40% of global GDP and 60% of the world’s population. It is expected to the largest contributor of global growth over the next three decades, according to the US government. It touted the benefits of the new framework for America, adding that trade with the Indo-Pacific supports more than 3 million American jobs. Brunei, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam also are part of the trade framework.

Newsline: US considering sending special operations forces to protect US embassy in Kyiv

The Biden administration is in the early stages of discussions about sending special operations forces into Ukraine to help guard the US Embassy in Kyiv, several US officials tell CNN. The discussions are in very preliminary stages and a proposal has not been presented to President Joe Biden for a decision, the sources added. (https://edition.cnn.com/2022/05/23/politics/us-embassy-kyiv-special-operations-forces/index.html) For now, the embassy and its limited number of personnel are protected by State Department diplomatic security officials. The discussion centers around whether an increase in security is needed if the number of personnel increase, and whether special operations forces are best equipped to fulfill those requirements. The Wall Street Journal first reported that special operations forces are being considered for embassy security. US Marines typically guard US embassies around the world, but in Kyiv, for now, there is a general agreement that the typical Marine Corps embassy guard personnel may not be suited to the uncertain security picture in Ukraine without additional forces, officials say. Last week, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the Department of Defense was having conversations with the State Department about what their security requirements might look like.