sputnik for apr 19/20

Russian Diplomatic Source Says UK Warship Passage to Black Sea is Aimed at Intimidation
Sputnik News, Apr 20 2021

MOSCOW – UK warships planned passage to the Black Sea through the Bosphorus is aimed at intimidating Russia, as the West keeps trying to influence Moscow’s policies, but Russia expects non-Black Sea powers to implement the Montreux Convention, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry told Sputnik on Tuesday. The source said, asked to comment on London’s plans;

Everything that is being done around ship entry into the Black Sea is done with the only goal of increasing pressure on our country. Apparently they hope we will ‘understand’ something and behave as they expect, show more flexibility. Perhaps, they believe it is possible to make us scared of something. This is the goal.

The source noted that the Montreux Convention sets the limits on the number, mass and displacement of non-Black powers’ vessels that can simultaneously be present in the Black Sea. The source stressed:

We count on the common sense of those on whom the implementation of the Montreux Convention depends.

Last week, Washington also notified Ankara about two warships passage to the Black Sea, but the Pentagon later abandoned the plans. The source expressed the belief that the plans were aimed at intensifying regional tensions. The source concluded:

We have not counted them. It is not our task to count how many of them there are. But the escalation of tensions applies not only to the Black Sea, but to our relations in general. We cannot support it. This is not our policy. This is not our choice.

Last week, it was reported that a destroyer and an anti-submarine frigate of the UK navy will enter the Black Sea in early May as a sign of solidarity with Ukraine amid tensions at the border with Russia. On Monday, a diplomatic source in Turkey confirmed to Sputnik that London had notified Ankara about the planned passage, scheduled for the first week of May.

Moscow Reserves the Right to Expel Ukrainian Diplomat in Tit-for-Tat Move
Sputnik News, Apr 20 2021

Russia reserves the right to expel a Ukrainian diplomat as a response to Kiev’s recent move to declare a staffer of the Russian embassy persona non grata, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday. The ministry also said that the Ukrainian consul who will be expelled from Russia was involved in preparations to oppress Ukrainian holders of double citizenship. The ministry said in a statement:

The Russian Foreign Ministry expresses its resolute protest to this new unfriendly move of the Ukrainian side. The accusations against the Russian diplomat are groundless. He did not do anything outside his diplomatic mandate.

Moscow slammed as “absolutely unacceptable” Kiev’s claim that the move was a symmetric response to the “oral message about the undesirability of the staying on the Russian Federation’s territory of the consul of the Ukrainian consulate general in St Petersburg.” According to the Russian foreign ministry, the Ukrainian consul was recommended to leave Russia after it was revealed that he was trying to obtain classified databases of the Russian law enforcement agencies, in order to assist Kiev’s preparations for “political repression” against Ukrainian holders of Russian citizenship. The ministry concluded:

Taking into consideration all the circumstances, the Russian Foreign Ministry cannot qualify the Russian diplomat’s expulsion from Ukraine as a symmetric measure, and reserves the right for reciprocal moves against a diplomat of the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow.

Huawei Was Able to Spy on Millions in the Netherlands, Report Says
Arty Katkov, Sputnik News, Apr 20 2021

The Dutch government recommended the stronger vetting of telecoms equipment suppliers in July 2019.
Huawei had the ability to eavesdrop on people using the Dutch mobile network KPN, including the then-Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and various ministers, without the company’s knowledge, De Volkskrant reported. A 2010 secret report made by Capgemini, a firm hired by KPN to evaluate risks since it was using Huawei technology at the time, said that Huawei would have had free access to KPN’s network back then, De Volkskrant said, after reviewing the document. KPN started using Huawei technology in 2009 but commissioned the report from Capgemini after being warned by the Dutch domestic intelligence service, AIVD, about the risk of espionage. The internal report was kept secret due to its alarming nature. The outlet cites the report as reading:

The continued existence of KPN Mobile is in serious danger because permits may be revoked or the government and businesses may give up their confidence in KPN if it becomes known that the Chinese government can eavesdrop on KPN mobile numbers and shut down the network.

There were 6.5m users subscribed to the FPN mobile network at the time. Huawei said it never acted inappropriately in the Netherlands. The Chinese technology firm said:

Huawei employees have not had unauthorised access to KPN’s network and data, nor have they extracted data from that network. Huawei has at all times worked under the explicit authorisation of KPN.

KPN said that it has no indications that lines were tapped or that customer data was stolen. If it had, the company told ANP, it would have “certainly informed the appropriate authorities and our customers.” In 2020, KPN became one of the first European operators to exclude Huawei from its core 5G network, opting for Ericsson. The Netherlands still remains one of the European countries pushing back against US pressure to exclude the Chinese company.

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