Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 27, 2022

Newsline: Russia’s top diplomat accuses West of waging “total war”

The Kremlin’s top diplomat on Friday accused the West of declaring “total war” and promoting “the culture of canceling Russia,” in blistering remarks that underscore how Moscow continues to see the war in Ukraine as an existential struggle to remake the geopolitical order as opposed to a mere territorial conflict. “The West has declared a total war on us, on the Russian world. Nobody makes any secret of this,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday during a meeting with regional officials. His remarks were reported by Tass, the Russian news agency. (https://news.yahoo.com/kremlin-rails-against-west-accuses-us-of-canceling-russia-160113732.html) Earlier this month, Lavrov — a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — dragged Russia into a dispute with Israel over the Holocaust. Russia believes that Ukraine is rife with neo-Nazis, a claim that is not supported by evidence and is further weakened by the fact that its elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish. Lavrov bizarrely compared Zelensky to European Jews he claimed aided their own Nazi tormentors during the Holocaust.

Newsline: Turkey’s top diplomat keeps up pressure on Sweden, Finland

Turkey’s foreign minister says Sweden and Finland must now take “concrete steps” to alleviate his country’s security concerns to overcome Ankara’s objections to their NATO membership bid. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday that delegations from the two Nordic countries have returned home with Turkey’s demands after a visit this week and Ankara is awaiting their answers. Cavusoglu said that “an approach of ‘we’ll convince Turkey in time anyway, we are friends and allies’ would not be correct.” He insisted that “these countries need to take concrete steps.” He added that “we understand Finland and Sweden’s security concerns but … everyone also needs to understand Turkey’s legitimate security concerns.” (https://www.kiro7.com/news/world/live-updates-turkey/5GSP6FFRVY6JXLJM6TVACGWMBY/) The countries’ membership bids require support from all NATO countries, but Turkey is objecting to them. It has cited alleged support for Kurdish militants that Turkey considers terrorists and restrictions on weapons sales to Turkey.

Newsline: Russia expels five Croatian diplomats in retaliatory move

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Friday that it was expelling five staff members of the Croatian embassy in Moscow in response to Zagreb ordering out some of its staff. (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-expels-five-croatian-diplomats-retaliatory-move-2022-05-27/) Croatia in April told 24 Russian embassy staff to leave over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Newsline: US calls on Yemen’s Houthis to release its local embassy staff

The United States has renewed its call for Yemen’s Houthis to release detained US embassy staff after the death of a retired employee of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) who was in the rebels’ custody. The US embassy in Sanaa paid tribute to the late staffer, Abdulhameed Al-Ajami, calling him a “proud Yemeni dedicated to educating Yemeni children”. “We extend our condolences to his loved ones and call on the Houthis to end this injustice and release every single current and former US Embassy employee now,” the embassy said in a statement shared on Twitter. The Associated Press news agency cited an unidentified international aid worker as saying that Al-Ajami, who was never charged with a crime, suffered from moderate kidney failure – a condition that worsened during his time in detention without access to medical aid. The US Department of State had said that Al-Ajami “had no contact with his family during the last six months of his life”. “The United States has been unceasing in its diplomatic efforts to secure the release of our Yemeni staff in Sanaa,” spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “We demand the Houthis release detained current and former US employees.” (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/26/us-calls-on-yemens-houthis-to-release-its-local-embassy-staff) Washington had shut down its embassy in Yemen’s capital Sanaa in 2015 as the country’s civil war intensified. The Houthis seized the compound that housed the diplomatic post last October. The rebels also detained dozens of former local employees.