Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Wednesday, March 2, 2022, 12:26 PM

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Despite a bombardment of airstrikes, the front line protecting Kharkiv, Ukraine held and the city remains under Ukrainian control, reports the Wall Street Journal. Residents of Kharkiv reported that the city experienced air strikes that hit residential areas and civilian infrastructure. Authorities report 21 Ukrainian casualties and 112 injuries in the past 24 hours. 

The Russian defense ministry warned it was planning to conduct airstrikes on Ukrainian intelligence and communications facilities in Kyiv, writes the Wall Street Journal. Russia claims that the facilities in Kyiv are being used by Ukrainians to conduct “information attacks” against Russia. The defense ministry urged Ukrainians living in Kyiv to evacuate their homes “for their own safety.” Western officials interpreted Russia’s warning as an indication that Russia is planning a massive strike on Kyiv’s residential areas. 

The U.N. General Assembly is set to vote on Wednesday to condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, reports Reuters. The vote will also demand Moscow cease fighting in the country and withdraw its military forces. By Tuesday evening, almost half of the 193-member General Assembly signed on as co-sponsors of a draft resolution that reportedly “deplores” Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine.”

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is planning to hold public hearings about claims of genocide in Ukraine, according to CNN. In a statement, the ICJ said that public hearings will begin as early as next Monday and Tuesday about “the case concerning Allegations of Genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Ukraine v. Russian Federation).” In an application to the ICJ to institute proceedings against Russia, Ukraine accused the Kremlin of making false claims of genocide and, in turn, said Russia was “planning acts of genocide” in Ukraine following their invasion.

China will not join the West in imposing sanctions on Russia, reports Reuters. The Chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said at a news conference that “As far as financial sanctions are concerned, we do not approve of these, especially the unilaterally launched sanctions because they do not work well and have no legal grounds.” In addition to China’s criticisms of what it claims are “illegal and unilateral” sanctions on Russia, the country’s leaders have also refused to directly condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Africans living in Ukraine claim that Ukrainian authorities hindered them from fleeing the country in the days following the Russian invasion, writes the New York Times. The individuals allege that they were held by Ukrainian authorities for days at crossings in neighboring EU countries in the cold without food and shelter. The African individuals say that Ukrainian authorities pushed them to the ends of long lines, sometimes even beating them while letting Ukrainian citizens through. Most of the 660,000 refugees that fled Ukraine are citizens of the country, however many are students or migrant workers from Africa and Asia who are also desperate to escape the violence.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange will not block all Russian user accounts used for trading, according to Fortune. Binance said that despite Ukrainian officials’ requests to conduct a unilateral freeze on Russian accounts, the crypto exchange will only block the accounts of specific Russian individuals affected by sanctions from the West. In a statement, Binance said, “We are not going to unilaterally freeze millions of innocent users’ accounts. Crypto is meant to provide greater financial freedom for people across the globe. To unilaterally decide to ban people’s access to their crypto would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists.”

Russian Formula 1 drivers are now banned from competing in the U.K. by the national motorsport authority, reports BBC. In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Motorsport U.K. will now refuse to recognize the licenses of competitors from the Russian federation, consequently barring them from any competition in the country. The Motorsport U.K. chair said that  “It is our duty to use whatever influence and leverage we might have to bring this wholly unjustified invasion of Ukraine to a halt.”

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol issued six new subpoenas to lawyers and other allies of former President Trump who allegedly promoted false claims about widespread fraud in the 2020 election and also worked to overturn President Biden’s victory, writes the New York Times. The Trump allies subpoenaed allegedly were involved in attempts to invalidate the election by filing lawsuits, pressuring local election officials to change results and drafting proposed executive orders to seize voting machines. Select committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said in a statement that “The six individuals we’ve subpoenaed today all have knowledge related to those matters and will help the select committee better understand all the various strategies employed to potentially affect the outcome of the election.”

President Biden delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday night on Capitol Hill, according to CNN. In his address, Biden touched on issues such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic, addressing inflation and fighting cancer, among others.

The White House announced a new plan for fighting the coronavirus pandemic amid the virus’s transition from a crisis to a lower-level risk, reports the Hill. Biden announced in his State of the Union address that the coronavirus “no longer need[s] to control our lives” in this “new moment.” Biden’s 96-page plan requires new funding from Congress to “help us fight COVID-19 in the future as we move America from crisis to a time when COVID-19 does not disrupt our daily lives and is something we prevent, protect against, and treat.”

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Scott R. Anderson, Julia Friedlander and Rachel Ziemba discuss the unprecedented sanctions on Russia. They talk about the different types of sanctions being applied, what impact they will have on the Russian economy and the implications for Ukraine and the rest of the world.

Susan Landau outlined how a reintroduced Senate bill runs the risk of failing to combat the problem of online child sexual abuse material while simultaneously decreasing internet security.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast in which Baker, Dimitri Alperovitch, Nate Jones and Jane Bambauer discussed topics ranging from how modern networks and media are influencing what has become a major shooting war between Russia and Ukraine to the proposed European Data Act. 

Henry Farrell published a book review of Nicholas Mulder’s “The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War.”

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