Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Katherine Pompilio
Friday, February 25, 2022, 2:33 PM

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Ukrainian officials confirmed that the capital city of Kyiv faced a “bombardment” of missile strikes Friday morning, reports the New York Times. Additionally, Russian troops on the ground are reportedly inching closer to the heart of the government as Ukrainian forces defend the outskirts of the city. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry urged residents to stay indoors, and “prepare Molotov cocktails” to deter “the occupier.” Amid the fighting, Ukraine’s foreign minister tweeted in reference to the Second World War. He wrote, “Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one. Stop Putin.”

Russian forces captured the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear power plant on Ukrainian territory, writes the Washington Post. The Chernoby nuclear power plant was stuck with disaster in 1986 when a defective reactor sent a radioactive cloud over Europe. The site of the accident remains radioactive to this day. Ukrainian officials warned that the Russian seizure of Chernobyl and the wider attack on Ukraine could possibly result in another dangerous nuclear tragedy. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stated that the Russian invasion “may cause another ecological disaster” and that if the war continues, Chernobyl “can happen again in 2022.” 

President Joe Biden announced new economic sanctions on Russia for waging war on Ukraine, reports the New York Times. Biden said that the U.S. will cut off Russia’s largest banks and companies from western financial markets and also will restrict exports of technology to Russia. Additionally, the U.S. plans to freeze trillions of dollars in Russian assets, including funds controlled by Russian elites. In a speech on Thursday announcing the sanctions, Biden said that “Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences.” 

After facing backlash from numerous countries and international institutions, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended his decision to invade Ukraine, according to the Hill. In a Kremlin meeting, Putin made comments claiming that he was “forced” to order military action due to Western “intransigence” over security concerns. Putin went on further to say that “[The West has] left us no chance to act differently.”

The United Nations refugee agency reported that several thousand Ukrainains evacuated into neighboring countries, and an estimated 100,000 fled their homes and are currently uprooted within Ukrainian territory, writes Reuters. A spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that the “ballpark” figures were compiled from national authorities and partner agencies. 

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin deployed an additional 7,000 troops to Europe in the hours following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, reports CNN. The troops were sent to NATO countries in Eastern Europe with the intention of defending NATO territory amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Biden specified that U.S. troops deployed to these countries will not be sent into Ukraine. A senior U.S. defense official reported that the troops will be deployed to “deter Russian aggression and be prepared to support a range of requirements in the region.” The troops are expected to depart within the next few days. 

President Biden announced his nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to the Supreme Court, according to CNN.  Jackson currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and previously served on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and is a former public defender. If confirmed, she would be the first Black woman to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court.

The House Oversight Committee requested additional information from the National Archives and Records Administration as part of an investigation into former President Trump’s handling of White House records, writes the Washington Post. The committee launched the investigation following the discovery of 15 boxes of documents containing classified materials improperly removed from the White House by Trump. A letter sent by the committee to the National Archives asked for a “detailed description of the contents of the boxes recovered from Mar-a-Lago … and identification of any items that are classified and the level of classification” by March 10.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Olga Lautman and Shane Harris about Russian military aggression toward Ukraine. 

Jurecic and Molly E. Reynolds traced the influence of the Supreme Court’s decision in Trump v. Mazars on the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.  

Emily Kilcrease and Sarah Stewart explained how congress can ensure that Creating Helpful Incentives for the Production of Semiconductors for America funding will advance national security interests. 

David Priess shared an episode of the Chatter Podcast in which he and Neil Bradbury discussed assasination by poison. 

Sara Bjerg Moller discussed NATO’s role in the international response to the Ukraine crisis. 

Scott R. Anderson, Zachary Badore, Anastasia Bradatan, Alexander Herkert, Bryce Klehm, Rohini Kurup, Jaime Lopez, Katherine Pompilio, Anna-Marie Robertson and Thomas G. Warschefsky assembled governments' and international organizations' formal reactions to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro explained why Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is not enough, on its own, to destroy the world order.

Dominic Cruz Bustillos translated Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Feb. 23 speech from Ukrainian and Russian to English. Zelenskyy made the remarks just hours before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

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Katherine Pompilio is an associate editor of Lawfare. She holds a B.A. with honors in political science from Skidmore College.

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