Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Russia

Newsline: North Korea Diplomat’s Wife, Son Disappear in Russia

Russia’s Investigative Committee announced it has opened an investigation into the disappearance of a North Korean diplomat’s wife and teenage son in Russia’s far eastern region of Primorsky Krai. The missing persons—Kim Kum-Sun, 43, and 15-year-old Park Kwon-Chu—were last seen on Sunday in the city of Vladivostok. The weekly Argumenty I Fakty reported that they are believed to be the wife and son of North Korean Council Choi En Nam, who is reportedly working in Vladivostok. (https://www.newsweek.com/north-korea-diplomat-wife-son-mysteriously-disappear-russia-1805097) According to Siberia.Realities, the diplomat filed a missing persons report and police said the two could be trying to flee to China or South Korea.

Newsline: Russia summons Japan’s ambassador

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Friday that it had summoned the Japanese ambassador over Tokyo’s decision to supply military equipment to Ukraine. Japan – which has backed Western sanctions against its long-time antagonist in east Asia in response to Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine – last month promised Ukraine around 100 military-use vehicles “such as trucks”, having previously given protective equipment such as helmets and bullet-proof vests. However, Moscow said Tokyo was supplying “armoured vehicles” as well as all-terrain vehicles. “The Japanese side was told that this step would lead to an escalation of hostilities and a further increase in the number of human casualties of the Kyiv regime,” the ministry said in a statement. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/russia-summons-japans-ambassador-protest-military-supplies-ukraine-2023-06-09/) Japan’s export rules ban its companies from selling lethal items overseas.

Newsline: Russia summons Germany, Denmark, Sweden ambassadors

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the ambassadors of Germany, Sweden and Denmark to protest over what it said was the “complete lack of results” in an investigation to identify who blew up the Nord Stream gas pipelines last year. Several unexplained underwater explosions ruptured the Nord Stream 1 and newly built Nord Stream 2 pipelines that link Russia and Germany across the Baltic Sea in September 2022. The blasts occurred in the economic zones of Sweden and Denmark. Both countries say the explosions were deliberate, but have yet to determine who was responsible. The two countries as well as Germany are investigating the incident. Russia’s Foreign Ministry in a statement accused all three of deliberately dragging their feet and trying to conceal who was behind the blasts. It said it was unhappy about what it called the opaque nature of the investigation and its refusal to engage with Russia. “It has been noted that these countries are not interested in establishing the true circumstances of this sabotage. On the contrary, they are delaying their efforts and trying to conceal the tracks and the true perpetrators of the crime behind which we believe are well-known countries,” it said. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/russia-summons-germany-denmark-sweden-envoys-over-stalled-nord-stream-2023-05-25/) The Danish foreign ministry confirmed that its ambassador had been summoned, and said authorities in Denmark, Germany, and Sweden were continuing their investigations.

Newsline: Russia shuts Swedish consulate, expels diplomats in tit-for-tat move

Russia said on Thursday it would shut Sweden’s consulate in St Petersburg and its own mission in Sweden’s second-biggest city Gothenburg, and expelled five Swedish diplomats in a tit-for-tat move after Stockholm expelled five Russians last month. It said it had withdrawn its consent for the Swedish consulate in St Petersburg from September. Stockholm said last month it had expelled the diplomats over espionage concerns. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the expulsions an “openly hostile step”. Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said in a statement the news was “very regrettable”. “Russia has chosen to expel Swedish diplomats who acted within the framework of the Vienna Convention and conducted customary diplomatic activities in Russia. We also deeply regret the Russian announcement about the Consulate General in St Petersburg,” he said. (https://uk.investing.com/news/stock-market-news/russia-expels-five-swedish-diplomats-says-ties-at-unprecedented-low-3032030) Relations between the two countries have worsened since Sweden last year announced its intention to join NATO. The Russian statement said ties had “reached an unprecedented low”.

Newsline: Russian court extends detention of former US Consulate worker

Russia issued a three-month extension to the detention of a former U.S. Consulate employee in Vladivostok, a city on the southeastern coast of Russia, after the State Department condemned the arrest earlier this week. A Russian court handed down the extension of Robert Shonov’s detention. Shonov, a Russian national, was arrested in Vladivostok and charged with “collaboration on a confidential basis with a foreign state or international or foreign organization,” according to Russian state-run news agency TASS. (https://news.yahoo.com/russian-court-extends-detention-former-174403088.html) Shonov worked for the U.S. Consulate General in the city for more than 25 years. The State Department said that after Russia ordered in 2021 that all local staff to the U.S. Mission be terminated, Shonov was employed by a private company that provided services to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, saying it was in “strict compliance with Russia’s laws and regulations.”

Newsline: Bank accounts of Finland’s embassies frozen in Russia

Bank accounts of Finland’s embassies in Russia have been frozen, the Finnish foreign ministry said on Wednesday. A ministry spokesperson told Reuters the bank accounts of both Finland’s Moscow embassy and its Saint Petersburg consulate were not functioning but declined to comment further. (https://neuters.de/world/finnish-embassy-bank-accounts-frozen-russia-foreign-ministry-says-2023-05-17/) Russia’s central bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Newsline: US ambassador visits American detained in Russia

U.S. ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy on Thursday visited American citizen Paul Whelan in the prison he has been held in Mordovia in eastern Russia, the U.S. embassy said. “Paul has been wrongfully detained in Russia for more than 4 years, and his release remains an absolute priority. The U.S. government will continue to engage Russian authorities on his case so Paul can come home as soon as possible,” the embassy said in a tweet. (https://neuters.de/world/us-envoy-russia-visits-detained-american-paul-whelan-prison-embassy-2023-05-04/) Whelan, a former U.S. marine, was arrested in December 2018, held for 18 months in Lefortovo prison in Moscow and jailed for 16 years in June 2020 on spying charges. He has denied the accusations. The United States has designated Whelan as “wrongfully detained”, a term that effectively says the charges are bogus and the case is politically driven.

Newsline: Russia complains to Finland about vandalism at consulate

Russia has complained to Finland about vandalism at a Russian consulate on the Aland islands in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden, the Finnish foreign ministry said on Thursday. The Russian foreign ministry said on Wednesday a group of people had thrown “an explosive noise device” and other items into the consulate’s territory, causing material damage to the building between April 20 and May 1. “The perpetrators’ actions posed a direct threat to the life and health of the staff of the Russian mission,” it said. Local police said they had initiated a preliminary investigation into the case, adding they had the identities of persons who may have been involved. “The damage consists of the consulate’s mailbox being torn down from its stand and a beer bottle being thrown at the consulate, resulting in a window panel being broken,” it said in a statement. The Finnish foreign ministry said police were “clarifying and investigating” the incident. “The case is regrettable,” it said in an email. (https://news.yahoo.com/russia-complains-finland-vandalism-consulate-083143237.html) Aland’s demilitarised status, which dates back to the end of the Crimean war in 1856, and Russia’s consular presence in the autonomous region have become a topic of debate in Finland.

Newsline: Russia summons Polish envoy

Russia said it had summoned Poland’s chargé d’affaires to protest against what it called the “seizure” of its embassy school building in Warsaw last week. Poland took over the building on Saturday, arguing that Russia was illegally occupying Polish state property. Russia called the move an “illegal seizure”. “These steps by Warsaw will certainly not go without a proper response from us, which will not take long,” Moscow’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/russia-summons-polish-diplomat-over-embassy-school-seizure-2023-05-02/) Russia’s ambassador to Poland said last week that Polish prosecutors had seized significant amounts of money from the frozen bank accounts of the Russian embassy and trade mission.

Newsline: Russia expels Moldovan diplomat in retaliatory move

Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said it was expelling a Moldovan diplomat in what it cast as retaliation for the expulsion last week of a Russian diplomat in Moldova. The ministry said in a statement it had summoned Moldova’s ambassador in Moscow to announce the expulsion, as well as to protest against what it called “unfriendly steps towards Russia” and “regular anti-Russian statements” from Chisinau. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/russia-expels-moldovan-diplomat-retaliatory-move-foreign-ministry-2023-04-25/) Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu called the move “hostile” and said it was the latest episode in decades of Russian efforts to hold back Moldova’s development as an independent state.