Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 16, 2023

Newsline: U.S. condemns reported arrest of former U.S. consulate employee in Russia

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it “strongly condemns” the reported arrest of Robert Shonov, a former employee of the United States’ mission in Russia, calling allegations he illegally collaborated with foreigners “wholly without merit.” Russian state news agency TASS reported on Monday that Shonov had been detained in the far eastern city of Vladivostok but was being held in Moscow’s Lefortovo prison, usually reserved for serious crimes including espionage. Shonov, a Russian national, was employed by the U.S. Consulate General in Vladivostok for more than 25 years until Russia in 2021 ordered the termination of the U.S. mission’s local staff, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement on Tuesday. At the time of his arrest Shonov was employed by a company contracted to provide services to the U.S. embassy in Moscow and his role was to compile summaries of Russian media reports, Miller said, adding that this arrangement complied with Russia’s laws and regulations. (https://news.yahoo.com/u-condemns-reported-arrest-former-173321787.html) Russia’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Newsline: China urges foreign embassies to remove signs showing support for Ukraine

Chinese authorities have asked foreign embassies and international organisations based in Beijing not to use the outer walls of their buildings for “political propaganda,” apparently referring to signs showing support for Ukraine. The notice from the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged the embassies and international organizations not to use the outer walls of their buildings for propaganda and “avoid causing conflicts between states.” (https://news.yahoo.com/china-urges-foreign-embassies-remove-154800793.html) Many embassies in Beijing have put up signboards depicting the Ukraine flag and with messages in Chinese and English, such as #StandWithUkraine, to demonstrate their solidarity.

Newsline: Top Chinese envoy to visit Ukraine, Russia on ‘peace’ mission

A top Chinese envoy began a tour of Ukraine, Russia and other European countries on Monday in a trip Beijing says is aimed at discussing a “political settlement” to the Ukraine crisis. Li Hui, China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs and former ambassador to Russia, will also visit Poland, France, Germany on the multi-day trip, the foreign ministry announced without providing a detailed schedule. Li is due to visit Ukraine on Tuesday and Wednesday, a Ukrainian government official told Reuters, declining to provide further details. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said the specifics Li’s itinerary would be released in due course. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/top-chinese-envoy-visit-ukraine-russia-peace-mission-2023-05-15/) The visit comes weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping held a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy in late April, in the first talks between the two leaders since the war began. Zelenskiy described the call as “long and meaningful” on Twitter, while Xi said China would focus on promoting peace, although Beijing’s proposals to end the conflict have been met with some skepticism in the West given its ties with Russia. Since February, Beijing has promoted a 12-point proposal for a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.