Australia said yesterday it was evacuating its embassy in Kiev as the situation on the Russia-Ukraine border quickly deteriorated, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling on China to not remain “chillingly silent” on the crisis.
The US and Europe stepped up their warnings of an imminent attack by Russia on Ukraine, while the Kremlin, jostling for more influence in post-Cold War Europe, said that the EU and NATO were being disrespectful in their joint rejection of Russia’s demands to reduce tensions.
Australian embassy staff members in Kiev were directed to a temporary office in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine, around 70km from the border with Poland, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said in a statement.
“We continue to advise Australians to leave Ukraine immediately by commercial means,” Payne said.
Morrison said that the situation “is reaching a very dangerous stage” and added that “the autocratic unilateral actions of Russia to be threatening and bullying Ukraine is something that is completely and utterly unacceptable.”
Morrison, whose government has frigid ties with China, called on Beijing to speak up for Ukraine, after China criticized a meeting of the US, Australian, Japanese and Indian foreign affairs ministers in Melbourne last week.
“The Chinese government is happy to criticize Australia ... yet remains chillingly silent on Russian troops amassing on the Ukrainian border,” Morrison told a news conference. “The coalition of autocracies that we are seeing, seeking to bully other countries, is not something that Australia ever takes a light position on.”
Relations between Australia and China, its top trade partner, soured after Canberra banned Huawei Technologies from its 5G broadband network in 2018, toughened laws against foreign political interference and urged an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
A senior UN official has said he is “alarmed” that a peaceful Australian climate protester has been jailed for 15 months — and refused bail before her appeal — amid global outrage at her “disproportionate” punishment. On Friday, Deanna “Violet” Coco was sentenced to 15 months in prison for blocking a single lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in April in a protest staged to draw attention to the global climate emergency. “I am alarmed at a NSW court’s prison term against climate protestor Deanna Coco and refusal to grant bail until a March 2023 appeal hearing, ” UN Special
SECOND ATTEMPT: An overhaul of the criminal code is expected this month, after a similar move was in 2019 stymied by large-scale protests in the Muslim-majority country The Indonesian parliament is this month expected to pass a new criminal code that would penalize sex outside marriage with a punishment of up to one year in jail, officials have said. The legislative overhaul would also ban insulting the Indonesian president or state institutions, and expressing any views counter to the country’s state ideology. Cohabitation before marriage is also banned. Decades in the making, the new criminal code is expected to be passed on Dec. 15, Indonesian Deputy Minister of Justice Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej said. “We’re proud to have a criminal code that’s in line with Indonesian values,” he told Reuters
CARROT-AND-STICK: Authorities tightened control over virtual private networks, which protesters used to access banned non-Chinese news and social media apps Chinese authorities have initiated the highest “emergency response” level of censorship, according to leaked directives, including a crackdown on virtual private networks (VPNs) and other methods of bypassing online censorship after unprecedented protests demonstrated widespread public frustration with the “zero COVID” policy. The crackdown, including the tracking and questioning of protesters, comes alongside the easing of pandemic restrictions in an apparent carrot-and-stick approach to an outpouring of public grievances. During an extraordinary week in China, protests against “zero COVID” restrictions included criticism of the authoritarian rule of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) — which was further highlighted by the death of
EASING RESTRICTIONS: China has not approved any foreign COVID-19 vaccines and is opting for those produced domestically, the US Director of National Intelligence said Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is unwilling to accept Western vaccines despite the challenges China is facing with COVID-19, and recent protests could affect his personal standing in the Chinese Communist Party, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Saturday. Although China’s daily COVID-19 cases are near all-time highs, some cities are taking steps to loosen testing and quarantine rules after Xi’s “zero COVID” policy triggered a sharp economic slowdown and public unrest. Despite the social and economic impact of the virus, Xi “is unwilling to take a better vaccine from the West, and is instead relying on a vaccine