Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Katherine Pompilio
Thursday, March 17, 2022, 2:29 PM

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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Russia to “immediately suspend” military operations in Ukraine, reports U.N. News. In a 13-2 vote with a Russian representative and a Chinese representative dissenting, the ICJ ruled that Russia “shall immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February.” The world court issued the ruling in response to a lawsuit filed by Ukraine on Feb. 27 that accused Russia of unlawfully using the concept of genocide to justify its invasion of the country. Despite the binding nature of the ICJ’s decision, officials and reporters are skeptical that Russia will abide by the ruling. 

The Ukrainian military launched multiple counteroffensive operations to deter Russian forces from attacking the capital city of Kyiv and other key cities, writes the Wall Street Journal. Ukrainian forces reportedly counterattacked Russian forces in the Kyiv suburbs such as Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel. Ukrainian military personnel are also advancing toward the city of Kherson, which has been occupied by Russia since the start of the invasion. They claim to have successfully orchestrated an airstrike on the Kherson airport, which is currently serves as a Russian air base.  

The Biden administration will supply the Ukrainian military with advanced defensive weapons that are portable and require little training to use against Russian military tanks, vehicles and aircraft, according to the New York Times. President Biden also announced an additional $800 million in military aid for Ukraine. This aid includes: 800 Stinger antiaircraft missiles, 9,000 antitank weapons, 100 tactical drones and other small arms like machine guns and grenade launchers. U.S. and European officials reportedly want to focus on supplying the Ukrainian military with advanced equipment that is easy to use by small teams rather than weapons that require significant logistical support like tanks and warplanes. 

Spanish authorities impounded a third superyacht that is believed to be owned by a Russian oligarch, reports the Washington Post. The seizure of the $600 million, 443-foot yacht is part of a global crackdown on oligarchs that support Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Governments from multiple countries are working to identify and freeze the assets of the Russian elites such as their superyachts and luxury apartments. 

A judge on Honduras’s Supreme Court of Justice ruled that the country’s former president is to be extradited to the U.S. to face drug trafficking and weapons charges, writes the Associated Press. Former President Juan Orlando Hernández is wanted by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, where he is accused of funding his political campaigns with money from drug traffickers in exchange for protecting their illegal shipments.

A court in Cambodia sentenced 20 political activists and former politicians to up to 10 years in prison on sedition charges, according to Reuters. Human rights organizations claim that the sentences are part of a larger government crackdown on political opposition to the current government. The administration of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has been in power for 37 years, and in just the past few years has charged over 100 opposition members or supporters with treason and incitement. 

The Justice Department indicted five Chinese nationals accused of trying to suppress dissent against the Chinese government in the United States, reports the Hill. Federal prosecutors allege that the five nationals planned an attack on a candidate for U.S. Congress and also attempted to bribe a U.S. tax official for information on a pro-democracy activist, among other crimes. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said of the indictments, “This activity is antithetical to fundamental American values, and we will not tolerate it when it violates U.S. law …. We will not allow any foreign government to impede [Americans’] freedom of speech, to deny them the protection of our laws or to threaten their safety or the safety of their families.”

The Department of Homeland Security announced it will offer temporary deportation protections for Afghan individuals living in the United States without a permanent legal status, writes the Wall Street Journal. Afghans that were present in the U.S. on or before March 15 are eligible for temporary protected status, which bars them from deportation and allows them to work legally in the U.S. for 18 months. Those likely to benefit the most from this announcement are a group of about 2,000 Afghan citizens—mostly students, employees or tourists on temporary visas—who arrived in the U.S. before the American troops were withdrawn from the country and the Taliban reclaimed power. Temporary protected status allows for these individuals to stay in the U.S. without overstaying a visa. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which David Priess sat down with Alexander Stubb to discuss Stubb’s experience negotiating a 2008 ceasefire between Russia and Georgia, his experienced impressions of Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov, and what it all means for European unity and for Finland's place in NATO.

Jason Healy explained why civil-military relations in the United States must adapt to new demands or cyberspace may be irretrievably diminished.

Howell also shared an episode of Rational Security in which Alan Rozenshtein, Quinta Jurecic and Scott R. Anderson sat down with Natalie Orpett to discuss Russia turning to China for economic relief from sanctions and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the state secrets doctrine.  

Michael C. Petta discussed whether the recent sanctions-based seizure of a Russian cargo ship beyond French waters is consistent with the high seas freedoms and exclusive flag state jurisdiction reflected in the law of the sea. 

Darren E. Tromblay explored how the U.S. intelligence community can neatly exploit domestic foreign intelligence. 

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