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Russia hopes there will be no provocations to aggravate situation around Taiwan : Lavrov

Bangladesh Beyond
  • Updated on Sunday, July 31, 2022
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Russia hopes there will be no provocations to aggravate situation around Taiwan : Lavrov

 

Dhaka July 31 2022 :

 

Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by the Embassy of Russian Federation in Bangladesh on July 31 2022.

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

Lavrov informs Blinken about Russia’s position on Ukraine and grain problem

MOSCOW, July 29. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov informed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about Russia’s position on the situation around Ukraine, the global food security and prisoner swap, the Russian foreign ministry said on Friday after their telephone conversation.

“The two top diplomats discussed the current situation in Ukraine. The minister told about Russia’s principled approaches in light of the ongoing special military operation on the territories of the DPR, LPR (Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics – TASS) and Ukraine and stressed that its goals and tasks will be inevitable attained,” it said.

In this context, “the state secretary’s attention was drawn to the fact that the ongoing flooding the Ukrainian army and nationalist battalions with American and NATO weapons, which are used against civilian population, only prolongs the agony of the Kiev regime, protracts the conflict and multiplies casualties,” the ministry said. “Lavrov stressed that the Russian armed forces strictly observe norms of international law and systemic work is being done on the liberated territories to resume peaceful life.”

The two top diplomats also discussed the situation in the sphere of global food security.

“Antony Blinken was informed about the details of the package agreement, signed on July 22 in Istanbul, regarding transportation of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports and on promotion of export of Russian food and fertilizers,” the ministry said. “The minister drew special attention to the fact that the global [food] situation is complicated by the US sanctions and that the US has not yet fulfilled its promise to grant the relevant exemptions for Russian food exports. He stressed that the use of this problem by the collective West in its geopolitical interests is inadmissible.”

The sides also discussed bilateral problems. “The two top diplomats exchanged views on the problems of bilateral relations, which badly need normalization,” the ministry said.

“Concerning possible exchange of prisoners with the United States, the Russian side strongly recommended the sides return to professional dialogue in the regime of quiet diplomacy, without speculations and fakes,” the ministry said.

The conversation was initiated by the American side.

 

US and Russia hold first top level call since February

Moscow has confirmed a phone conversation took place between the two top diplomats

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at Washington’s request by phone on Friday, the ministry has confirmed.

It was the first conversation between Moscow and Washington’s top diplomats since Russia launched its military offensive in Ukraine in February.

Aside from the conflict, they discussed the Ukrainian grain export deal, signed in Turkey last week, and a potential prisoner exchange between the two nations, the ministry reported.

Earlier on Friday, Blinken told a news briefing that he had “a frank and direct conversation” with the Russian minister and “pressed the Kremlin to accept the substantial proposal that we put forth on the release of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner.”

Basketball star Brittney Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan are currently both in Russian custody. Griner was arrested on drug smuggling charges, and Whelan was jailed for espionage.

CNN reported earlier they could be exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment by a Manhattan federal court in 2012 on charges of providing aid to a US-designated terrorist organization and conspiring to kill US nationals.

Moscow has not confirmed receiving any specific proposals on the matter from the US and instead said Lavrov urged the US to “return to professional dialogue in the form of ‘quiet diplomacy’ without any speculations.” The US State Department did not reveal any details about its “substantial proposal” and hasn’t mentioned Bout by name so far.

The minister also said that continuous Western arms deliveries to Kiev would only prolong the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and lead to further human suffering. The Russian forces in Ukraine strictly follow the norms of international law, Lavrov said, adding that Russia also undertakes “systemic efforts” to help people living on territories under its control return to normal life.

The conversation came after US diplomats said they had repeatedly requested a phone call between Lavrov and Blinken to discuss the potential prisoner exchange. On Thursday, Moscow said that Lavrov would consider the request as soon as his busy schedule allowed. The Russian minister is about to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization ministerial summit and hold several bilateral meetings.

 

OUTSIDE RUSSIA

Russia hopes there will be no provocations to aggravate situation around Taiwan — Lavrov

TASHKENT, July 29. /TASS/. Moscow assumes that no actions capable of aggravating the situation around Taiwan will be taken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Friday after the SCO Foreign Ministers Council meeting.

“Our position of having only one China remains unchanged, the same position in words is periodically confirmed by the United States, but in practice, as you yourself understand, actions do not always match their words. We have no problem with defending the principle of China’s sovereignty, and we assume that no irritants, no provocations that could aggravate this situation will be undertaken,” Lavrov said in reply to a question about the situation around Taiwan and possible plans of Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to pay a visit to Taiwan.

The NBC TV channel, citing sources, reported that Pelosi will start her tour of Asia on Friday, she heads the delegation of American lawmakers. According to the channel, no decision had been made yet regarding a possible trip to Taiwan.

Earlier, there were reports in the media that Pelosi, who occupies the third most important post in the US government hierarchy, intended to visit the island in August. It was noted that Pelosi had planned to visit Taiwan back in April, but postponed the trip because of the coronavirus. The visit would have been the first visit to the island by the speaker of the US House of Representatives in 25 years. Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing would take drastic measures in case of the visit.

 

Bulgarian PM’s ‘Russian Meddling’ Claims Sign of Government in Death Throes, Zakharova Tells Sputnik

Ilya Tsukanov, Sputnik news

Exclusive

This week, outgoing Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, whose government lost a no confidence vote last month over what the opposition characterized as the “failure of its financial and economic politics,” accused Moscow of interfering in his country’s affairs, telling The Times that Russia had “infiltrated” Bulgarian politics using corruption.

Moscow “sympathizes” with the soon-to-be ex-Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov’s evidence-free allegations about Russian “meddling” in Bulgaria’s affairs, and considers the claims a sure sign of a politician singing his swan song, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.

In an interview with The Times on Tuesday, Petkov, whose six-month old coalition government collapsed in late June, claimed that his ouster was the result of Russian interference.

“We have curbed corruption locally, but we have discovered that we have a bigger enemy: Russian infiltration. We failed to understand that corruption and Russian influence are the same thing. Corruption is Moscow’s best foreign policy tool in the Balkans,” Petkov, who is now tasked with running a caretaker government until snap elections in the fall, said.

“We sincerely sympathize with [Mr. Petkov’s] concerns about the ‘long arm’ of the Kremlin,” Zakharova told Sputnik.

“When it comes to logic and truth, we see no reason to comment separately on each and every deliberately false statement about Russian interference in Bulgaria’s affairs, about corruption as our ‘main foreign policy tool’ in the Balkans, or the ‘indoctrination’ of local politicians through the organization of ‘field trips’ to Greece,” the spokeswoman added.

Zakharova stressed that Russia has never interfered in the internal affairs of other countries, “just as it will never allow any country to try to impose its opinion on us.”

“Speculation around the ‘Russian threat’ for domestic political or other selfish purposes is a sure sign of political death-throes,” she said.

Zakharova expressed confidence that the spuriousness of Petkov’s claims is “just as obvious to the Bulgarian people, to whom we sincerely wish prosperity and a pragmatic government capable of acting on the basis of national interests, and not a desire to curry favor with transatlantic ‘partners.’”

Petkov, 42, resigned as prime minister on June 27 after losing a no-confidence vote after just six months in office. During the escalation of the security crisis in Ukraine this spring, Bulgaria joined EU sanctions against Russia, and refused to pay for Russian gas in rubles, prompting Gazprom to cut off deliveries and leading his ITN Party coalition partners to withdraw from his “We Continue the Change” electoral alliance-led government.

The Petkov-led coalition is one of four European governments to be swept away by the inflation and energy crisis facing Western countries amid escalating tensions with Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine. Last week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban compared the West’s strategy of sanctions against Moscow to “a car with flat tires on all four wheels,” and said that the restrictions, instead of destabilizing Russia, only put Europe into a severe political and economic crisis.

 

SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE

Ukraine shells prison holding POWs – DPR

Dozens died after Kiev’s forces struck a jail in Donbass, a local official claims

Ukrainian troops shelled a prison housing prisoners of war in the suburban settlement of Yelenovka early Friday morning, according to the Donetsk People’s Republic’s deputy information minister, Daniil Bezsonov.

“There was a direct hit at a building with prisoners,” Bezsonov wrote on Telegram. “The results as of now: 40 killed, 130 wounded.”

The minister added that he believes Kiev used US-supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launchers for the attack.

The facility reportedly housed Ukrainian fighters captured by Russian and allied forces during the siege of the Azovstal steel mill in the city of Mariupol.

The reported shelling took place as Russian and DPR troops attempt to push Ukrainian soldiers out of the republic’s western areas.

The DPR has repeatedly accused Ukraine of using HIMARS to shell Donetsk and other areas. On Sunday, the authorities said Ukrainian troops struck an oil refinery in Donetsk.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

 

Kiev knew prison it shelled held Ukrainian POWs – DPR

The Ukrainian military attacked the facility “to hide crimes” the inmates could expose, the republic’s military has claimed

Kiev knew exactly where Ukrainian prisoners of war were being held when it ordered a strike on the detention facility in Donbass, Eduard Basurin, the spokesman for the army of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), claimed.

The attack on the prison near the village of Yelenovka on Friday morning claimed the lives of 53 people, with 75 more injured, according to the DPR. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the facility had held members of Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, whose fighters surrendered to Russian and Donbass forces during the siege of the Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol. The battalion is notorious for having fighters with nationalist and neo-Nazi views.

“I would like to note that Ukraine itself determined the place of detention of prisoners of war, so they knew exactly where they were kept and in what place,” Basurin told journalists without elaborating.

The DPR’s ombudswoman, Darya Morozova, explained that Ukrainian authorities had previously insisted Yelenovka’s facility be a detention center for Ukrainian prisoners of war.

“It was discussed, it was their proposal. That is, they knew perfectly well where the prisoners were being held, at their own request. That’s how cynically they took the lives of 50 of their own officers and soldiers,” she told Izvestia newspaper.

In Basurin’s opinion, the prison was targeted “after the Ukrainian prisoners of war began to talk about the crimes that they had committed on the orders of their commanders.” As the orders to conduct those crimes, according to Basurin, had been issued by Kiev, the Ukrainian “political leadership” ordered the strike on the detention center using US-made HIMARS multiple rocket launchers “to hide those crimes about which Ukrainian prisoners of war began to speak.”

“I would like to note that even the lack of ammunition did not stop them from shutting the mouths of those Ukrainian prisoners of war who began to tell how they killed, where they killed and why they killed the civilian population,” Basurin said.

He echoed the earlier remarks by DPR head Denis Pushilin, who claimed that the Ukrainians “deliberately” targeted the detention center in order to kill Azov members who had been providing accounts of possible war crimes committed by their commanders.

Kiev has categorically denied these allegations and accused “the Russian occupants” of carrying out the strike. According to a statement by the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on Facebook, Russia’s aim was to accuse Ukraine of committing ‘war crimes’.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.

 

INSIGHTS

What’s the Big Deal About Pelosi, Or Any Other US Politician, Going to Taiwan? An Explainer

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has threatened strong measures in response to a potential visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to the island of Taiwan. Pelosi, with Republican backing but opposing the White House, has insisted that being deterred from going would be undemocratic.

“One who plays with fire will certainly burn himself” – that’s how Chinese President Xi Jinping warned US President Joe Biden on Thursday about the consequences of Pelosi going to Taiwan and, by extension, Washington’s policy of increasing support for the Taiwanese government.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian was a bit more verbose earlier this week, telling reporters that if Pelosi visits Taiwan as part of her Asia tour, “We are fully prepared. If the US goes its own way, China will certainly take firm and forceful measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the United States should be held responsible for any serious consequences.”

So why does China care so much if a US politician visits an island off its coast? The answer lay in a civil war fought nearly three-quarters of a century ago.

Republic Rump State

Taiwan was first annexed to the Qing Empire in 1683 by the Kangxi Emperor as part of an effort to crush resistance forces left over from the Ming Dynasty. However, in 1895, the Japanese Empire invaded and conquered Taiwan during the First Sino-Japanese War, forcing the Guangxu Emperor to cede control of the island. Japan turned Taiwan into a colony for producing sugar cane and brutally crushed anti-colonial revolts. At the end of World War II, the victorious Allies returned Taiwan to Chinese control, along with other parts of the country Tokyo had seized.

On the mainland, the imperial government had since fallen, following a mass democratic movement that forced the Xuantong Emperor, Puyi, to abdicate the throne in 1912. The Republic of China was declared, but the new government struggled to maintain control over the far-flung empire and was still at the mercy of imperialist powers like Japan, the US, and UK, inheriting the unequal treaties imposed on the empire. Warlordism by self-interested governors and generals gave way to a rising communist movement, which temporarily joined forces with the Republican government to resist the Japanese invasion.

After the war, the final reckoning between the two sides saw the communist Red Army conquer the entirety of mainland China and found a new People’s Republic of China in Beijing on October 1, 1949.

According to Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, on that day, China “stood up” and put the so-called “Century of Humiliation,” when China was subservient to foreign powers, behind it.

However, the Red Army lacked a navy capable of crossing the Taiwan Strait, an 80-mile-wide waterway separating Taiwan from Fujian and Guangdong provinces on the mainland. With the Cold War becoming more intense and a war between the competing socialist and capitalist governments in nearby Korea on the horizon, the United States continued to support and defend the Republic of China government in Taiwan, including sending the US Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait in 1950.

The RoC government has claimed ever since that it remains the sole legitimate government of all of China, and refuses to have relations with countries that recognize the PRC instead; Beijing has an identical policy, but in reverse.

After losing the mainland, the RoC government in Taipei instituted martial law, and a military dictatorship ruled the island until 1996, when the first democratic elections were held. A “white terror” saw thousands arrested, tortured, or executed for organizing against military rule or on suspicions of sympathizing with the socialist government.

Three Communiqués

After the PRC and the Soviet Union split into rival communist factions in the early 1960s, the US acquired new interest in befriending Beijing, since Washington perceived the primary threat to the capitalist world to be the Soviet Red Army and its Warsaw Pact allies in Europe. Beginning with a secret trip into China in 1971 by then-US national security adviser Henry Kissinger to meet with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, Beijing and Washington slowly grew closer. Then-US President Richard Nixon publicly visited China the following year and signed the Shanghai Communiqué.

In that highly important document, the US said it “acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China.”

“The United States Government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves,” the communiqué says. The two nations notably published their statements separately instead of jointly, at Zhou’s insistence.

Two more communiqués followed, in 1979 and 1982, with the US formally switching its recognition of the legitimate Chinese government from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. In the August 17, 1982, communiqué, the US stated it has “no intention of infringing on Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, or interfering in China’s internal affairs, or pursuing a policy of ‘two Chinas’ or ‘one China, one Taiwan.’”

 

Washington also said in the 1982 communiqué that it “does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, that its arms sales to Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China, and that it intends gradually to reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution.”

“In order to bring about, over a period of time, a final settlement of the question of United States arms sales to Taiwan, which is an issue rooted in history, the two Governments will make every effort to adopt measures and create conditions conducive to the thorough settlement of this issue,” the document also stated.

Taiwan Relations Act, Six Assurances

Parallel to the US’ agreements with the PRC, the US also passed a new Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 and issued Six Assurances in 1982. While the US had officially ended diplomatic relations with the government and abrogated the 1955 Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty that obligated it to defend Taiwan, it created a new, informal means of relations.

The act refers to “governing authorities on Taiwan,” but also refers to Taiwan as a political entity that includes outlying islands under Taipei’s control. It allowed the establishment of an American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to serve as a de facto embassy and a similar office in Washington, DC, today known as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO).

Notably, the act does not state the US will come to Taiwan’s defense, but does promise the US “will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain sufficient self-defense capabilities.”

The Six Assurances, given to Taiwan after the August 17 communiqué with the PRC, include pledges not to set a specific date for weapons sales to end and not to interfere or serve as intermediaries between Taipei and Beijing, and that the US will not pressure Taipei to open its own negotiations. The US also pledged not to revise the Taiwan Relations Act.

Strategic Ambiguity

While the mutual defense treaty is gone, Washington has been deliberately vague about whether or not it would actually defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. The policy is two-pronged: it has kept Taiwan from feeling it has the blank check of US military backing to safely declare independence from China, and it has kept the PRC from feeling it has the blank check of US acquiescence to reuniting Taiwan with the mainland via force, as has happened to other outlier parts of the RoC that survived past 1949, such as Tibet and Hainan.

However, there have been several disruptions to this balance, owing to the popular belief in the United States that Taiwan is an independent country, a US ally, and worth fighting China over. While several recent trips to Taiwan by former US politicians have led to statements that the “One China” policy is dead or should be allowed to die, it’s likely that when it comes to Pelosi’s rumored forthcoming trip, Beijing has a far more serious infraction in mind.

The last time someone of such high rank in the US government traveled to Taiwan was 25 years ago, when then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) flew there in 1997. On that trip, Gingrich met with then-Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui and said to China: “We want you to understand, we will defend Taiwan. Period.”

Gingrich in Taipei

In 1997, China was preparing for a major political triumph: the reincorporation of Hong Kong into the country, which had been a British colony since it was seized as a war prize in 1840. It also came on the heels of the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis, which began when Lee was granted a visa to visit the United States and China responded with missile and amphibious assault drills near Taiwan.

In response, the US dispatched two carrier battle groups and an amphibious assault ship – another type of aircraft carrier – and numerous US warships that sailed through the Taiwan Strait, flouting Chinese warnings against it.

The situation was embarrassing for Beijing, since it was forced to back down, and the crisis gave Lee a boost in the polls and a political victory by winning a narrow majority in Taiwan’s first democratic elections in 1996. However, it also led the Chinese People’s Liberation Army to acquire and design a host of new weapons and warships that would be capable of taking on the advanced US fleet, including long-range anti-ship missiles designed to keep US aircraft carriers far from Chinese shores.

Beijing has warned the US in recent years that the dramatic increase in weapons sales to Taiwan, combined with renewed efforts to give it political cover on the international stage, are empowering pro-independence forces on the island, including President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party.

If Taiwan does declare independence, it will certainly mean war.

 

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