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: Iceland to close embassy in Moscow from August 1

Iceland’s foreign ministry will suspend its embassy operations in Moscow from Aug. 1 and has asked Russia to scale back its diplomatic activities in Reykjavik, the ministry said in a statement on Friday. Iceland’s embassy operations are being suspended due to an ‘all-time low’ level of commercial, cultural and political relations between the two countries, the ministry said. “The current situation simply does not make it viable for the small foreign service of Iceland to operate an embassy in Russia,” Foreign Minister Thordis Gylfadottir said. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/iceland-suspend-embassy-operations-moscow-aug-1-2023-06-09/) The Russian ambassador was informed of the decision earlier on Friday by the foreign ministry, which also requested that Russia limit the operations of the Russian embassy in Reykjavik. Diplomatic relations between the two nations have not been severed, the ministry said, adding that the embassy will be reopened once relations normalise.

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: Romania tells Russia to cut its embassy staff in Bucharest by 51

Romania’s foreign ministry has informed Russia that it must reduce the number of its embassy positions in Bucharest by 51, bringing it in line with the size of Romania’s embassy staff in Moscow. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday that because some of the jobs at the Russian Embassy are vacant, about 40 staff members, 11 doing diplomatic work and 29 in technical or administrative jobs, would have to leave Romania. (https://www.foxnews.com/world/romanias-foreign-ministry-informs-russia-reducing-number-available-embassy-positions-51) The ministry said the embassy was given 30 days to comply with the decision, and if it does not, some employees would have their accreditation withdrawn.

Newsline: Germany to close three consulates in Russia by November

The German government made the decision to close by November its consulates general in the Russian cities of Yekaterinburg, Kaliningrad and Novosibirsk, after Moscow’s earlier decision to cap Germany’s diplomatic staff stationed in Russia at no more than 350 people, a German diplomat said on Wednesday. “Structural changes will be required,” German Foreign Ministry Spokesman Christopher Burger told a news briefing. “In order to follow Russia’s instructions regarding the cut in our personnel, the German government made a decision to close its Consulate General offices in Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk.” “The operational work [of the offices] has already been significantly limited and they will be closed before November,” Burger said, adding that Moscow’s decision regarding the reduction in German diplomatic personnel in Russia was “a step toward escalation.” The diplomat noted that Moscow’s actions are forcing Berlin “to make very significant cuts in all areas of its presence in Russia.” According to him, the German government also made a decision to reduce the presence of German cultural institutions in Russia, including German schools and the Goethe Cultural Center (Goethe-Institut), to the bare minimum. (https://tass.com/world/1625953) Burger added that the German Embassy in Moscow and the Consulate General in St. Petersburg remained operational.

Newsline: Germany closes four out of five Russian consulates in tit-for-tat move

German government orders closure of four out of five Russian consulates in Germany in tit-for-tat move. (https://news.yahoo.com/german-government-orders-closure-four-111851040.html) Starting from June, Russia will slash the number of people that Germany can employ in its embassies or institutions in Russia in the education and cultural sectors. Several hundred people are affected, including officials from the embassy and consulate, but mostly employees of the Goethe cultural institute in the country, German schools, nurseries and teachers working in Russian schools.

Newsline: China’s special envoy pledges efforts for political solution to Ukraine crisis

China will make concrete efforts for a political solution to the Ukraine crisis, the Chinese foreign ministry quoted special envoy Li Hui as saying on Saturday. China has always adhered to an objective and fair position on Ukraine, argued for peace and promoted talks, Li was quoted as telling Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (https://neuters.de/world/china-will-make-concrete-efforts-political-solution-ukraine-crisis-special-envoy-2023-05-27/) Li, China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs and former ambassador to Russia, held meetings and talks with Lavrov, and Deputy Foreign Ministers Andrey Rudenkon and Mikhail Galuzin. The two sides exchanged views on China-Russia relations and a political settlement for the Ukrainian crisis and agreed that President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Russia further deepened political mutual trust, China’s foreign ministry said in a readout of the conversation. Li’s visit to Russia was the final stop in a multi-country tour that Beijing said was aimed at discussing a “political settlement” to the Ukraine crisis.

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: African leaders seek diplomatic solution to cease hostilities in Ukraine

Six African leaders propose that Ukraine accept opening peace talks with Russia even as Russian troops remain on its soil, South Africa’s presidency said, as South African officials prepare to visit both countries to sell the idea. “First is the cessation of hostilities. Second is a framework for lasting peace,” South African Presidency Spokesman Vincent Magwenya said. (https://neuters.de/world/african-leaders-seek-persuade-russia-ukraine-cease-hostilities-2023-05-22/) President Cyril Ramaphosa first announced the initiative on May 16. President Macky Sall of Senegal, last year’s African Union chairman whose country was not present at the latest U.N. vote condemning Russia in February this year, leads the initiative. It includes presidents Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia – which both voted for the resolution – and Congo Republic’s Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, which both abstained. The peace mission is expected to travel to both Moscow and Kiyv in early June.