Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Tuesday, March 1, 2022, 1:18 PM

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Belarusian troops joined Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by entering the country’s northern Chernihiv region, reports Politico. The Ukrainian parliament confirmed the presence of Belarusian troops on Ukrainian soil on Twitter. The tweet read, “Belarusian troops have entered the Chernihiv region. The information was confirmed to the public by Vitaliy Kyrylov, spokesman for the North Territorial Defense Forces. More details later.” Ukrainian authorities estimate that 33 Belarusian units entered the region. 

A 40 mile-long convoy of Russian military vehicles is headed toward the center of the Ukrainian capital city, writes the Washington Post. On Monday morning, U.S. firm Maxar Technologies captured satellite images of the convoy. Maxar analysts estimate that Russian ground forces are within 20 miles of Kyiv. The convoy reportedly is made up of Russian armored vehicles, tanks and towed artillery. 

Days after Russia invaded Ukraine, the office of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it would open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, according to Reuters. ICC prosecutor Karim Khan reported that he would seek support and funding from the ICC’s member states for investigations. Khan said “The importance and urgency of our mission is too serious to be held hostage to lack of means.” Multiple rights groups and Ukrainian leaders have accused Russia multiple times of violating international war crimes laws throughout the invasion. 

The Presidents of Estonia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia released a joint statement urging the E.U. to grant Ukraine candidate country status and begin negotiations about its formal acceptance into the union, reports CNN. The statement reads: “We call on the EU Member States to consolidate highest political support to Ukraine and enable the EU institutions to conduct steps to immediately grant Ukraine a EU candidate country status and open the process of negotiations. In this critical moment, we reiterate our full solidarity with Ukraine and its People.”

Large multinational oil and gas companies are cutting ties with Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, reports CNN. Companies such as Shell, BP and Equinor announced plans to exit their business ventures in Russia. BP is reportedly abandoning one of Russia’s largest foreign investments by exiting its 19.75 percent stake in Rosneft, a Russian oil company. Additionally, Shell plans to cut its ties with Russian-owned Gazprom and is also ending its involvement with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Shell’s CEO said in a statement,“We are shocked by the loss of life in Ukraine, which we deplore, resulting from a senseless act of military aggression which threatens European security.” The energy companies are expected to lose billions of dollars as a result of cutting ties with Russia. 

The U.S. plans to expel 12 Russian diplomats from the country under the suspicion that they are intelligence agents committing espionage, writes the Wall Street Journal. A spokesperson for the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. reported that “We are beginning the process of expelling twelve intelligence operatives from the Russian Mission who have abused their privileges of residency in the United States by engaging in espionage activities that are adverse to our national security.” The Russian diplomats were asked to leave the United States by March 7. Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. responded to the accusations of espionage and said that the U.S. was simply taking another “hostile action against the Russian mission” and “grossly violating the commitments of the host-country agreement that they undertook.”

The Taliban announced that it will not permit Afghans to leave the country “without good reason” and that women are forbidden from traveling without a chaperone, according to the Hill. The new travel restrictions effectively reject a key U.S. demand for lifting sanctions and formally recognizing the government, according to the Wall Street Journal.  A spokesperson for the Taliban said at a press conference that “The government is obliged to find out a way to protect their people …. Especially when their path is not clear and they’re not invited. They should not dive into the unknown.”

President Biden will not grant executive privilege to two top advisors to former President Trump, reports Axios. Biden denied former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn and former trade advisor Peter Navarro the “shield” of executive privilege in the House select committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Flynn and Navarro are now either forced to cooperate with the select committee’s investigation, or face potential criminal referral. 

The House passed a bill to make lynching a federal hate crime punishable for up to 30 years in prison, writes the New York Times. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act—named for the Black teenager tortured and murdered in Mississippi in 1955–was passed 422 to 3, and is expected to pass in the Senate. Rep. Bobby L. Rush–who introduced the legislation– said that “the House today has sent a resounding message that our nation is finally reckoning with one of the darkest and most horrific periods of our history, and that we are morally and legally committed to changing course.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Jacob Schulz sat down with Vanda Felbab-Brown and Madiha Afzal to discuss China’s involvement in numerous acts of transnational criminal activity.

Roger Parloff explained that in the first trial of a Capitol riot defendant, prosecutors plan to present a shock-and-awe campaign of video, audio and other digital evidence.

Phillip D. Cave, Don Christensen, Eugene R. Fidell, Brenner M. Fissell and Dan Maurer analyzed Congress’s reform of the military justice system and suggested plans for the next phase of reform. 

Katherine Pompilio announced this week’s Lawfare Live which will feature a live-recording of the Lawfare Podcast with an expert panel on the crisis in Ukraine. Panelists include: Anne Applebaum, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Dominic Bustillos, Lt. Col. (ret.) Alex Vindman and Alina Polyakova.

Francine Hirsch outlined how Putin’s memory laws regarding  World War II set the stage for his war in Ukraine.

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