Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for November 9, 2022

Newsline: Russia expels Moldovan embassy staffer

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, Nov. 9, said it was expelling an employee of the Moldovan embassy in Moscow. (https://whtc.com/2022/11/09/russia-expels-moldovan-embassy-employee-in-retaliatory-move/) The move came in response to what it said was the “unmotivated” designation of an employee of Russia’s embassy in Moldova as persona non grata on Nov. 1.

Newsline: Russian Diplomats Back Down on Nuclear War Threats

Russian diplomats tried to dial back rising fears the Kremlin might use nuclear weapons in its war in Ukraine, clarifying that their use against conventional forces would only occur if the existence of the country was at stake. The note circulated among International Atomic Energy Agency diplomats in Vienna was the second Kremlin attempt this month to clarify its atomic doctrine. His troops losing ground on the battlefield, President Vladimir Putin in September fueled fears of escalation with warnings that Russia would use all means available to defend the parts of Ukraine it had illegally annexed. While Russia’s nuclear strategy allows it to “hypothetically resort to nuclear weapons,” an attack would be launched only in response to first use by another country or if the “very existence of the state is in jeopardy,” according to the document. “The most immediate task is to avoid any military clash of nuclear powers.” (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/russia-seeks-dial-back-putin-105156518.html) Putin’s hints of possible nuclear use – along with more explicit threats by other Kremlin officials – drew denunciations from the US and its allies, as well as veiled criticism from China and India. Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz he opposed the use of nuclear force in Europe, in his most direct remarks yet on the need to keep Russia’s war in Ukraine from escalating.

Newsline: State Department excuses handshake between top U.S. climate envoy and Venezuela’s Maduro

The State Department on Tuesday excused a handshake between top Biden administration climate envoy John Kerry and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro as an “unplanned interaction.” Kerry was caught on video briefly meeting Maduro, Venezuela’s president, at the COP27 U.N. climate meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The brief but friendly encounter raised eyebrows on social media because Maduro has been charged by the U.S. government with narco-terrorism, conspiracy to import cocaine and possession of deadly weapons. In 2020, the State Department – which Kerry led under President Obama from 2013 to 2017 – offered a reward of up to $15 million for any information leading to the arrest and capture of Maduro. Kerry’s brief meeting appeared friendly and cordial. However, State Department spokesman Ned Price downplayed the encounter by saying Maduro interrupted Kerry during the meeting. “He briefly spoke to Special Envoy Kerry during COP27,” Price said. “This was not… planned or substantive in any way.” (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/john-kerrys-handshake-accused-narco-terrorist-nicolas-maduro-unplanned-state-dept) Price did not offer any insight or updates on whether the U.S. is any closer to securing Maduro’s capture, and stressed the brief meeting with Kerry did not touch on substantive issues.