Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for Russia

Newsline: Russia declares Ukrainian diplomat persona non grata

Moscow has declared an employee of Ukraine’s Consulate General in St. Petersburg persona non grata in response to similar actions taken by Kyiv against a Russian diplomat, Russian news agency TASS has reported, quoting the Russian Foreign Ministry. “In response to a similar unfriendly and unmotivated move by Kyiv, the Russian side was forced to declare an employee of the Consulate General of Ukraine in St. Petersburg persona non grata on a reciprocal basis,” the ministry said. (https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-society/2759792-russia-declares-ukrainian-diplomat-persona-non-grata.html) On August 13, Ukraine’s SBU Security Service said it had exposed in Lviv region a local resident who was collecting intelligence for the Russian special services and passed it to a Russian intelligence officer who “worked” under the diplomatic cover of the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Lviv. The SBU said that “for activities incompatible with the status of a consular officer, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry declared a spy diplomat persona non grata.” “He has already left the territory of Ukraine,” the SBU said.


Newsline: Trump mulling North Korea envoy to be next ambassador to Moscow

The White House is discussing whether to replace Jon Huntsman, the outgoing US ambassador to Moscow, with Steve Biegun, the special representative for North Korea, two administration officials tell CNN. (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/08/13/politics/us-ambassador-moscow-steve-biegun/index.html) Huntsman is set to step down in October after two years, the State Department announced last week, after reports that the former diplomat was moving back to Utah, perhaps to run for governor, a role he held from 2005 to 2009. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that President Donald Trump told President Vladimir Putin during a phone call last month that a new ambassador to Russia would be nominated “shortly.” The new ambassador will be taking up residence in Moscow at an especially challenging time, as US-Russia relations continue to be strained by Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, its annexation of Crimea and disruptive activities in eastern Ukraine. Concerns are also growing about a potential nuclear arms race, as both world powers have now abandoned nonproliferation treaties that kept their arsenals in check. Biegun is seen as a fit for the challenging diplomatic post because of his extensive experience on Russia and in Washington. He served on the National Security Council as its executive secretary under President George W. Bush and spent 14 years working as a congressional aide in both the House and the Senate.

Newsline: Russia Summons U.S. Embassy Official Over Publishing Of Moscow Rally Map

Russia has summoned a senior U.S. diplomat after accusing the State Department of meddling in the country’s internal affairs by publishing a map on social media showing the proposed route of an opposition protest in the Russian capital on August 3. In a statement on August 9, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Tim Richardson from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow’s political section over the matter. At issue is an August 2 travel warning, which appeared on the State Department’s travel advisory Twitter feed, that outlines details of the protest, including the time it will take place, listing the streets affected, and a picture of a map detailing the route demonstrators were expected to take. The State Department regularly issues such alerts for Americans traveling abroad. “We underlined that we consider the publication of the route…as promoting participation in an illegal event [the protest] and calling for action which constitutes interference in the internal affairs of our country,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in its statement. (https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-summons-u-s-embassy-official-over-publishing-of-moscow-rally-map/30101607.html) There was no immediate comment from the U.S. Embassy.

Newsline: US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman resigns

US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has submitted his resignation letter to President Donald Trump and plans to move back home to Utah, according to a source familiar with his thinking. Huntsman’s resignation is effective October 3 and there is some speculation that he is planning to run for governor of Utah, a role he previous served in from 2005 to 2009. However, a source close to Huntsman told CNN that decision is still up in the air, saying: “We shall see, it’s been a long two years.” (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/08/06/politics/jon-huntsman-resignation-letter-russia/index.html) Huntsman’s decision means the Trump administration will have to fill a crucial diplomatic role. The new ambassador will face the difficult task of fulfilling Trump’s goal of improving ties with Russia at a time of heightened tensions between the two countries over issues including Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, election interference and the attempted poisoning of an alleged Russian spy in Britain.

Newsline: Russia summons Japanese ambassador over disputed islands comments

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday it had summoned the Japanese ambassador in Moscow to complain about what it said was criticism from Tokyo that bordered on “an attempt to interfere in Russia’s domestic affairs.” (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-russia/russia-summons-japanese-ambassador-over-disputed-islands-comments-idUSKCN1UW1U8) Tokyo earlier this month called a visit by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to one of four islands claimed by both Japan and Russia extremely regrettable and urged Moscow to take constructive steps to advance ties. The Russian foreign ministry said Japan’s comments about what it did on its sovereign territory were unacceptable. It said it had also handed Japan’s ambassador a note of protest over what it said were violations of a visa-free exchange regime related to the disputed islands.

Newsline: Trump, Putin discuss replacing Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr.

In a phone call from President Donald Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, the two discussed finding a replacement for Jon Huntsman Jr., the U.S. ambassador in Russia, CNN reported. The topic came up while the presidents were talking about wildfires in Siberia. During the short phone call, they reportedly discussed Huntsman’s expected departure sometime in coming months, but did not discuss names of possible replacements. (https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900082483/russian-ambassador-jon-huntsman-jr-replacement-president-donald-trump-vladimir-putin.html) CNN suggested that Huntsman — a former Utah governor — and his wife, Mary Kaye, have been on a “farewell tour,” pointing to her social media posts “such as a Friday night with the embassy’s marine guard members last month and a walk along the Moscow river.” But Mary Kaye Huntsman took issue with the cable station on social media, calling the report of such a tour “inaccurate” and “disingenuous.” “I’ve never used my Instagram account to support CNN’s completely fabricated statements of our Moscow departure and ‘farewell tour’ of ‘several months,’ when we haven’t even announced our departure,” she posted on Instagram Saturday. “Our announcement will be coming soon and I’m sure we’ll at that point say goodbye to many friends before we leave.” Jon Huntsman will mark two years in Moscow this fall as U.S. ambassador.

Newsline: Russia to Grant Some Visas to U.S.-Embassy Backed Moscow School

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has softened its refusal to issue visas for teachers at a Moscow school run by the U.S., British and Canadian embassies amid signs of a slight thaw in tensions between the Kremlin and Washington. The Foreign Ministry on Thursday issued seven of the 30 visas requested, which will allow all current students to return, according to an email sent to parents by Rhonda Norris, the director of the Anglo-American School of Moscow. Because of the lack of availability of teachers, the school can’t yet confirm enrollment to some 50 new pupils, she said. Russia last month blocked visas for 30 teachers and administrators at the school, founded in 1949 by the U.S., British and Canadian governments to educate the children of diplomats, in a move U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman said used children “as pawns in diplomatic disputes.” Moscow accused the U.S. of misrepresenting the situation, saying it denied only teachers who had applied for visas as embassy employees with diplomatic passports. (https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/08/01/russia-to-grant-some-visas-to-us-embassy-backed-moscow-school-a66657) Spokeswomen for the U.S. Embassy and the Russian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to requests to comment.