Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Russia

Newsline: Russian Strategic Bombers in Venezuela Spark Diplomatic Row

The United States is blasting Russia for deploying two strategic bombers to Venezuela for war games. “The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Tuesday. The Kremlin responded to Pompeo’s comments, calling them “unacceptable” and “highly undiplomatic for a secretary of state.” Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the U.S. has no business criticizing the money being spent on the drills, saying just half of the U.S. defense budget could feed all of Africa. Two Russian planes capable of carrying nuclear bombs landed in Venezuela Monday for what Venezuelan officials call air force drills designed to bolster its defense capabilities. Russia also sent about 100 pilots and other military personnel.



Newsline: Russia and Greece resolve diplomatic spat

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday drew a line under a row in the summer that saw Athens expel Russian diplomats, following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We need to look forward… this case is over,” Tsipras told journalists after two hours of talks with Putin at the Kremlin. The Russian president repeated denials that Moscow had been attempting to meddle in Greece’s relations with Macedonia, which led to the expulsions. “I want to emphasise that we did not agree then and we do not agree now with the grounds for the expulsions of our diplomats,” he said. Moscow and Athens have historically close ties but these were tested in July when Greece expelled two Russian diplomats and barred two more from entry. Russia in turn threw out two Greek diplomats and a planned visit to Greece by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in July was called off.


Newsline: Slovakia Expels Russian Diplomat, Says Engaged in Espionage

Slovakia has expelled a Russian diplomat after information from military intelligence showed he engaged in espionage activities in the NATO and European Union member country, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said. “We expelled him on November 22 and he left Slovakia within 48 hours,” Pellegrini told reporters.


Newsline: Russian ambassador to Finland summoned over GPS disruption

Russia’s Ambassador to Finland Pavel Kuznetsov has been summoned to a meeting on Monday with Finnish state secretary Matti Anttonen over the disruption of Finland’s global positioning system (GPS) signal during recent NATO war games. “We don’t have anything to hide here. Disruption is a serious matter which disturbs civil aviation. We will act toward Russia, we will discuss this and we expect answers,” Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini said in a statement to public broadcaster Yle while on a state visit to the United States. The Finnish foreign ministry said on Thursday that the disruption of Finland’s GPS signal during recent NATO war games came from Russian territory.


Newsline: Russian Foreign Ministry summons Austrian ambassador

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Austrian Ambassador to Moscow Johannes Eigner over Vienna’s statements about a retired Austrian Army officer’s suspected involvement in espionage for Moscow, a ministry source told TASS. “The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned the Austrian ambassador,” the source said. Media reports say that Austria has opened an investigation into a 70-year-old retired colonel, suspected of working for Russian intelligence agencies since the 1990s, providing Moscow with information about Austria’s air force, artillery and the migration crisis. If found guilty, the colonel may face two years in prison. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Defense Minister Mario Kunasek have confirmed the espionage investigation. Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl canceled visit to Russia over the espionage incident.


Newsline: US Ambassador to Russia reveals cancer diagnosis

US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. has stage one cancer, he revealed in an interview with the Deseret News published Thursday. “It’s just stage one,” Huntsman said. “So we’ll probably get it taken care of, and we’ll be fine.” After noticing small black spots on his ear and leg, Huntsman told the Deseret News that he met with doctors at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah and later had the moles removed. He will need regular checkups to ensure the cancer has not spread, the paper reported. The cancer diagnosis has deep significance for the former Utah governor. Huntsman lost his father to cancer in February, the paper reported, and the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a close personal friend, also had melanoma — the same type of cancer as Huntsman. According to the paper, Huntsman was also careful not to reveal his cancer to anyone in Moscow, worrying about how the information would be received. Huntsman was confirmed as US ambassador to Russia last year and has been frequently targeted by state media propaganda. A State Department spokesperson told CNN they received this statement Thursday from Huntsman: “Ambassador Huntsman would like to thank his medical team who were quick with their early diagnosis and provided excellent treatment. The melanoma was detected early, and Ambassador Huntsman is already back in Moscow with his family and Embassy colleagues, hard at work representing the United States.” The White House did not immediately return a request for comment about Huntsman’s diagnosis.


Newsline: Suspicious package found outside Russian Embassy in Washington

Secret Service personnel responded to the Russian Embassy Sunday evening after an unattended package was discovered outside the building. Secret Service agents were dispatched to the embassy to clear the unattended package, according to an agency spokesperson. The package has since been cleared. Road closures were briefly in effect around the embassy, located on Wisconsin Avenue.