Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for April 8, 2012

Newsline: Russian embassy in London accused of spying

Security services believe there are around 40 Russian spies operating in Britain, as they did during the Cold War. According to The Telegraph, it is believed these spies are monitoring London-based oligarchs, or are engaged in industrial spying for commercial benefit to Russian firms. A senior source told the paper that approximately 50 percent of the Russian Embassy staff in London might be involved in intelligence gathering. There are fears that Russia could take advantage of the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations to increase its spying network. Oleg Gordievsky, a high-profile KGB defector, has warned that the number of spies operating in the UK could be greater than what there was in the mid-1980s. Britain’s close relationship with America has always attracted Russia. A Russia expert at the respected security think-tank, the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), Jonathan Eyal, said the UK has always been of interest to Russia as it is seen as a potential back door entry to US intelligence.



Commentary: UK embassies have better things to do

Gosh, were we mistaken! We thought tourist services at embassies involved serious matters such as replacing a lost passport … or giving advice should you find yourself mistakenly in jail in Tijuana on drug charges. It seems that tourists also expect embassies to help them find good restaurants and advise them on how to make romantic advances toward the locals. Who knew that embassy staff, far from dealing with grave matters such as diplomacy, were on hand merely to act as concierges? That’s apparently the case at British embassies, anyway. But, wait. British diplomats are complaining about this. Embassies are supposed to help tourists with emergencies, rather than with mundane wants and wishes. British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned U.K. citizens against making such requests to their embassies while vacationing in foreign lands. Frivolous requests only waste resources and make it tougher for staff to respond to true needs, he said. Britain has announced a stepped-up plan for dealing with tourist emergencies. Officials came in for criticism for chaotic efforts to evacuate U.K. nationals from Libya last year.


Commentary: Don’t read too much into China setting up embassy in Maldives

A few days after an Indian was beaten up and robbed in Male, Maldives Foreign Minister Abdul Samad Abdullah assured his interlocutors here of his government’s willingness to ensure the safety of an estimated 23,000 Indians working in far-flung territories of the multi-island country. However, Mr. Abdullah, speaking to The Hindu at a time when the Maldives is in the middle of a political stalemate of sorts, called upon strategic analysts not to drag his country into their vision of an India-China rivalry playing out in the Indian Ocean, because “we are too small.” On Indian strategic analysts making much of China being the first non-South Asian country to open a mission in Male, the Minister’s plea was plaintive — “It is not in the interest of Maldives to be pulled apart. We are too small for that,” he said while describing the opening of the embassy as a “positive thing.” Mr. Abdullah gave a down-to-earth explanation to those suggesting that the embassy was part of Beijing’s ‘string of pearls’ strategy to encircle India — “China you got to recognise is a superpower. It continues to have good ties with most countries including Russia and the U.S., so don’t read anything more.”