Russian asylum seekers blocked at US border, Ukrainians admitted

A Ukrainian family chat as they seek for a humanitarian visa at the San Ysidro Port of Entry of the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico March 15, 2022. Picture taken March 15, 2022. (REUTERS)
1 / 2
A Ukrainian family chat as they seek for a humanitarian visa at the San Ysidro Port of Entry of the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico March 15, 2022. Picture taken March 15, 2022. (REUTERS)
A Russian and a Ukrainian embrace each other as Russians wait for a humanitarian visa, at the San Ysidro Port of Entry of the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico, March 18, 2022. (REUTERS)
2 / 2
A Russian and a Ukrainian embrace each other as Russians wait for a humanitarian visa, at the San Ysidro Port of Entry of the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico, March 18, 2022. (REUTERS)
Short Url
Updated 19 March 2022

Russian asylum seekers blocked at US border, Ukrainians admitted

A Ukrainian family chat as they seek for a humanitarian visa at the San Ysidro Port of Entry of the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico March 15, 2022. Picture taken March 15, 2022. (REUTERS)
  • Reflects quiet but unmistakable shift in the differing treatment of Russians and Ukrainians

KIVE: About three dozen would-be asylum seekers from Russia found themselves blocked from entering the US on Friday while a group of Ukrainians flashed passports and were escorted across the border.
The scene reflected a quiet but unmistakable shift in the differing treatment of Russians and Ukrainians who enter Mexico as tourists and fly to Tijuana, hoping to enter the US for a chance at asylum.
The Russians — 34 as of Friday — had been camped several days at the busiest US border crossing with Mexico, two days after city of Tijuana officials gently urged them to leave.
They sat on mats and blankets, checking smartphones, chatting and snacking, with sleeping bags and strollers nearby as a stream of pedestrian border crossers filed past them. Five young girls sat and talked in a circle, some with stuffed animals.
Days earlier, some Russians were being admitted to the US at the San Ysidro crossing, while some Ukrainians were blocked. But by Friday, Russians were denied while Ukrainians were admitted after short waits.
“It’s very hard to understand how they make decisions,” said Irina Zolinka, a 40-year-old Russian woman who camped overnight with her family of seven after arriving in Tijuana on Thursday.
Erika Pinheiro, litigation and policy director for advocacy group Al Otro Lado, said the US began admitting all Ukrainians on humanitarian parole for one year around Tuesday, while at the same time blocking all Russians. There was no official announcement.
A Homeland Security Department memo dated March 11 but not publicly released until Thursday told border officials that Ukrainians may be exempt from sweeping asylum limits designed to prevent spread of COVID-19. It says decisions are to be made case-by-case for Ukrainians but makes no mention of Russians.
“The Department of Homeland Security recognizes that the unjustified Russian war of aggression in Ukraine has created a humanitarian crisis,” the memo states.
Homeland Security indicated in a statement Friday that anyone deemed “particularly vulnerable” may be admitted for humanitarian reasons on a case-by-case review, regardless of nationality.
Russian migrants in Tijuana sat off to the side of a line of hundreds of border residents waiting to walk across the border to San Diego on Friday. The line was unimpeded.
A 32-year-old Russian migrant who hadn’t left the border crossing since arriving in Tijuana with his wife about five days earlier had no plans to leave, fearing he may miss any sudden opportunity.
Within hours of arriving, the migrant, who identified himself only as Mark because he feared for his family’s safety in Russia, saw three Russian migrants admitted to the United States. After six hours, US authorities returned his passport and said only Ukrainians were being admitted.
“Ukrainians and Russians are suffering because of one man,” Mark said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He fled shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
US officials have expelled migrants more than 1.7 million times since March 2020 without a chance to see asylum under sweeping authority aimed at preventing spread of COVID-19. But the public health authority, known as Title 42, is seldom used for migrants of some nationalities who are difficult to expel for financial or diplomatic reasons.
But to claim asylum, migrants must be on US soil and US officials are blocking passage except for those it wants to admit.
Even before Russia’s invasion, the United States was seeing an increase in Russian and Ukrainian asylum seekers, most trying to enter at official crossings in San Diego rather than trying to cross illegally in deserts and mountains.
More than 1,500 Ukrainians entered the US on the Mexican border from September through February, according to US Customs and Border Protection, about 35 times the 45 Ukrainians who crossed during the same period a year earlier.
Ukrainians who can reach US soil are virtually guaranteed a shot at asylum. Only four of the 1,553 who entered in the September-February period were barred under the public health order that lets the US expel migrants without a chance at humanitarian protection.
The number of Russian asylum seekers entering at USland crossings from Mexico surpassed 8,600 from September through February, about 30 times the 288 the same time a year earlier. All but 23 were processed under laws that allow them to seek asylum.
Mexican officials have been wary of migrants sleeping at the border. Last month they dismantled a large migrant camp in Tijuana with tents and tarps that blocked a walkway to San Diego.
Eager to stop another camp from forming, the city distributed a letter on Wednesday asking migrants to leave their campsites for health and safety reasons and offered free shelter if they couldn’t afford a hotel.


Russia’s Lavrov says United States involved in Nord Stream explosions

Russia’s Lavrov says United States involved in Nord Stream explosions
Updated 02 February 2023

Russia’s Lavrov says United States involved in Nord Stream explosions

Russia’s Lavrov says United States involved in Nord Stream explosions
  • Russia vows to push Ukrainian army back in response to longer-range rockets

MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday said the United States was directly involved in explosions that severely damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea last year.
Lavrov provided no evidence for his claim. President Vladimir Putin has previously accused Britain of blowing up the pipelines, which London denied.
In an interview on state TV, Lavrov also said the West was lying about Russia’s refusal to negotiate over Ukraine and was trying to turn Moldova, Georgia and former Soviet states in Central Asia against Moscow.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russian forces would respond to the delivery of longer-range Western weapons to Kyiv by trying to push Ukrainian forces further away from its borders to create a safe buffer zone.
In the interview on state TV, Lavrov said everybody wanted the conflict in Ukraine — which Moscow calls a “special military operation” — to end, but that the West’s support for Kyiv was playing an important role in how Russia approached the campaign.
Two US officials told Reuters on Tuesday that Washington was preparing a new package of military aid worth $2.2 billion which is expected to include longer-range rockets for the first time.
.”..We’re now seeking to push back Ukrainian army artillery to a distance that will not pose a threat to our territories,” said Lavrov.
.”..The greater the range of the weapons supplied to the Kyiv regime the more we will have to push them back from territories which are part of our country.”
Longer-range rockets would allow Ukraine — which has said it plans to retake all of its territory by force, including annexed Crimea — to strike deeper into Russian-held territory.
The Kremlin said on Wednesday that such rockets would escalate the conflict but not change its course.
President Vladimir Putin sent tens of thousands of Russian troops into Ukraine in February last year. He has said the operation was needed to protect Russia’s own security and to stand up to what he has described as Western efforts to contain and weaken Moscow.
Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of waging an illegal war designed to expand its territory.


EU chief arrives in Kyiv, says bloc ‘stands by Ukraine’

EU chief arrives in Kyiv, says bloc ‘stands by Ukraine’
Updated 02 February 2023

EU chief arrives in Kyiv, says bloc ‘stands by Ukraine’

EU chief arrives in Kyiv, says bloc ‘stands by Ukraine’
  • EU countries have staunchly backed Ukraine since Moscow invaded in February
  • In June last year, Ukraine was granted EU candidate status

KYIV: European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said she had arrived in Kyiv with a team of commissioners on Thursday, a day before a Ukraine-European Union summit in the war-torn country.
“Good to be back in Kyiv, my 4th time since Russia’s invasion.... We are here together to show that the EU stands by Ukraine as firmly as ever. And to deepen further our support and cooperation,” she wrote in a tweet.
She is accompanied by 15 commissioners, including the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
The Commission described the visit as a “strong symbol” of European support for Ukraine “in the face of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression.”
EU countries have staunchly backed Ukraine since Moscow invaded in February, by hitting Russia with waves of economic sanctions and by sending weapons to Kyiv.
In June last year, Ukraine was granted EU candidate status.


Pakistan mosque suicide bomber ‘was in police uniform’: police chief

Pakistan mosque suicide bomber ‘was in police uniform’: police chief
Updated 02 February 2023

Pakistan mosque suicide bomber ‘was in police uniform’: police chief

Pakistan mosque suicide bomber ‘was in police uniform’: police chief
  • Hundreds of police were attending afternoon prayers in the police headquarters’ mosque when the blast erupted

The suicide bomber who killed 101 people inside a mosque at a police headquarters in Pakistan was wearing a police uniform and helmet when he staged the attack, a police chief said Thursday.
“Those on duty didn’t check him because he was in a police uniform... It was a security lapse,” Moazzam Jah Ansari, the head of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province police force, told a news conference.
Police have a “fair idea” about who the bomber was after matching his head found at the scene with CCTV images.
“There’s an entire network behind him,” Ansari said, explaining that the bomber had not planned Monday’s assault in northwest Peshawar alone.
Hundreds of police were attending afternoon prayers in the police headquarters’ mosque when the blast erupted, causing a wall to collapse and crush officers.
Authorities are investigating how a major security breach could happen in one of the most tightly controlled areas of the city, housing intelligence and counter-terrorism bureaus, and next door to the regional secretariat.
It is Pakistan’s deadliest assault in several years and the worst since violence began to surge again in the region after the Afghan Taliban’s takeover in Kabul in 2021.


Australia to remove British monarch from banknotes

Australia to remove British monarch from banknotes
Updated 02 February 2023

Australia to remove British monarch from banknotes

Australia to remove British monarch from banknotes
  • The RBA said it would consult Indigenous people on a new design that “honors the culture and history of the First Australians”
  • Australia is a constitutional monarchy, a democracy with King Charles III as its head of state

SYDNEY: Australia will remove the British monarch from its banknotes, replacing the late Queen Elizabeth II’s image on its $5 note with a design honoring Indigenous culture, the central bank said Thursday.
The decision to leave her successor King Charles III off the $5 note means no monarch would remain on Australia’s paper currency.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said it would consult Indigenous people on a new design that “honors the culture and history of the First Australians.”
Queen Elizabeth’s death on September 8 last year was marked by public mourning in Australia, but some Indigenous groups also protested against the destructive impact of colonial Britain, calling for the abolition of the monarchy.
Australia is a constitutional monarchy, a democracy with King Charles III as its head of state. A referendum proposing a switch to a republic was narrowly defeated in 1999.
The central bank said its decision was supported by the center-left Labor government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who favors an eventual move to an Australian republic.
The new banknote would take “a number of years” to be designed and printed, it said, with the existing $5 note remaining legal tender even after the new design is in people’s hands.
The RBA’s move was hailed by the nation’s republican movement, which noted that Indigenous people predated British settlement by 65,000 years.
“Australia believes in meritocracy so the idea that someone should be on our currency by birthright is irreconcilable, as is the notion that they should be our head of state by birthright,” said Australian Republic Movement chair Craig Foster.
“To think that an unelected king should be on our currency in place of First Nations leaders and elders and eminent Australians is no longer justifiable at a time of truth-telling, reconciliation and ultimately formal, cultural and intellectual independence.”
The Australian Monarchist League said the decision was “virtually neo-communism in action.”
“Before a referendum is held on whether the people want to retain the King as sovereign or opt for a President, this government has arbitrarily moved to discard the King’s head from Australia’s five dollar note,” it said in a statement.
“It is certainly not Australian democracy.”
A British monarch has featured on Australian banknotes since 1923 and was on all paper bills until 1953, the year of Elizabeth II’s coronation.
The queen’s face adorned the 1-pound banknote and then the new $1 note from 1966.
That first $1 banknote also included imagery of Aboriginal rock paintings and carvings based on a bark painting by Indigenous artist David Malangi Daymirringu.
The queen’s face has peered up at Australians from the polymer $5 note since 1992.
But the central bank’s governor Philip Lowe announced three months ago that it had begun talking with the government about whether to forego replacing the queen’s image with a portrait of King Charles III.
Australian coins, which are issued by the Royal Australian Mint, currently feature an image of the queen.


North Korea says US drills have pushed situation to ‘extreme red-line’

North Korea says US drills have pushed situation to ‘extreme red-line’
Updated 02 February 2023

North Korea says US drills have pushed situation to ‘extreme red-line’

North Korea says US drills have pushed situation to ‘extreme red-line’
  • Pyongyang was not interested in dialogue as long as Washington pursues hostile policies: statement
  • White House rejected North Korean statement and reiterated willingness to meet North Korean diplomats

SEOUL: North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that drills by the United States and its allies have pushed the situation to an “extreme red-line” and threaten to turn the peninsula into a “huge war arsenal and a more critical war zone.”
The statement, carried by state news agency KCNA, said Pyongyang was not interested in dialogue as long as Washington pursues hostile policies.
“The military and political situation on the Korean peninsula and in the region has reached an extreme red-line due to the reckless military confrontational maneuvers and hostile acts of the US and its vassal forces,” an unnamed ministry spokesperson said in the statement.
In Washington, the White House rejected the North Korean statement and reiterated a willingness to meet with North Korean diplomats “at a time and place convenient for them.”
“We have made clear we have no hostile intent toward the DPRK and seek serious and sustained diplomacy to address the full range of issues of concern to both countries and the region,” said a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council.
The North Korean statement cited a visit to Seoul this week by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. On Tuesday Austin and his South Korean counterpart vowed to expand military drills and deploy more “strategic assets,” such as aircraft carriers and long-range bombers, to counter North Korea’s weapons development and prevent a war.
“This is a vivid expression of the US dangerous scenario which will result in turning the Korean peninsula into a huge war arsenal and a more critical war zone,” the North Korean statement said.
North Korea will respond to any military moves by the United States, and has strong counteraction strategies, including “the most overwhelming nuclear force” if necessary, the statement added.
More than 28,500 American troops are based in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
“We reject the notion that our joint exercises with partners in the region serve as any sort of provocation. These are routine exercises fully consistent with past practice,” the White House statement said.
Last year, North Korea conducted a record number of ballistic missile tests, which are banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions. It was also observed reopening its shuttered nuclear weapons test site, raising expectations of a nuclear test for the first time since 2017.
In New York, South Korea’s foreign minister, Park Jin, met with the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday and called for the UN’s continued attention to North Korea’s recent provocations and efforts to implement sanctions on the reclusive regime.
Guterres said any resumption of nuclear testing by North Korea would deal a devastating blow to regional and international security, and reaffirmed support to build lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, according to Park’s office.
Park is on a four-day trip to the United States, which will include a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on Friday.
On Wednesday the United States and South Korea carried out a joint air drill with American B-1B heavy bombers and F-22 stealth fighters, as well as F-35 jets from both countries, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.
“The combined air drills this time show the US’ will and capabilities to provide strong and credible extended deterrence against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.