Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for December 15, 2022

Newsline: EU diplomats eye deal on Russia sanctions

European Union countries will make another push to agree on a ninth package of sanctions against Moscow on Thursday after Poland and Lithuania blocked a deal over concerns it might benefit Russian oligarchs in the fertilizer business. The two countries rejected the package saying it would offer Russian oligarchs loopholes to evade EU sanctions, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters in Vilnius. Fresh sanctions on Moscow have been held up by disagreement over whether the EU should make it easier for Russian fertilizer exports to pass through European ports, even when the producers are owned by blacklisted oligarchs. As EU leaders gathered for the last summit of the year in Brussels, an EU diplomat said countries had moved closer to a deal and that a new sanctions draft was expected to be circulated on Thursday evening. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/eu-members-fail-reach-agreement-new-russia-sanctions-diplomats-2022-12-15/) Some say EU restrictions pose a food security threat to developing countries, while others argue that relaxing them would allow Russian oligarchs who own fertilizer businesses to dodge EU sanctions against them.

Newsline: Russia questions suitability of next U.S. ambassador to Moscow

Russia questioned the suitability of the woman nominated by President Joe Biden to be the next U.S. ambassador to Moscow, suggesting Lynne Tracy might feel more at home in a hardline think-tank. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said remarks by Tracy in the media and to a U.S. Senate Committee showed that she saw tighter sanctions against Moscow as the way forward in bilateral relations. She said Tracy had also noted the need for contacts with the opposition and civil society. “Does she definitely want to come to us?” Zakharova asked. The ambassador needed to demonstrate readiness to work constructively in order to avoid “irreparable damage in relations with our country”, she said. (https://neuters.de/world/russia-questions-suitability-bidens-nominated-ambassador-moscow-2022-12-15/) Russia must agree to accept Tracy, who has been ambassador to Armenia since 2019, in order for her to take up her post.

Newsline: Brazil President-elect Lula to restart diplomatic relations with Venezuela

Brazil’s future foreign relations minister said President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has asked him to restore relations with Venezuela once he is inaugurated on Jan. 1. Mauro Vieira said a diplomatic mission will be sent to Caracas at the beginning of January to organize the official Brazilian residence before an ambassador is appointed and approved by Congress. (https://neuters.de/world/americas/brazil-president-elect-lula-restart-diplomatic-relations-with-venezuela-2022-12-14/) Diplomatic relations were broken in 2020 by the current rightist government of Jair Bolsonaro. Vieira stressed during a news conference that Lula’s administration will recognize the “elected government” of Maduro in Venezuela, and not the self-declared presidency of opposition leader Juan Guaido. Guaido’s ambassador to Brazil, Maria Teresa Belandria – who Bolsonaro recognized as Venezuela’s representative in Brazil – is already preparing to leave Brazil before Lula is sworn in.

Newsline: China accuses Britain of failing to protect its consulate

China said the British government had failed to fulfil its obligations under international law to protect its consulate premises and personnel and its Manchester consul general had returned home as part of a rotation of officials. “The Chinese consul general in Manchester has completed his term of office and has returned to China upon instruction not long ago. This is a normal rotation of Chinese consular officials,” a Chinese embassy spokesperson said in a statement posted on Twitter. (https://neuters.de/world/china-says-britain-failed-protect-its-consulate-staff-2022-12-14/) Earlier the British government said China had removed six officials who police wanted to question over the treatment of a man who said he was kicked and punched while protesting outside the Chinese consulate in Manchester.