Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Katherine Pompilio
Monday, April 11, 2022, 2:27 PM

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French President Emmanuel Macron will face off with Marine Le Pen in a runoff election for the French presidency on April 24, reports the Washington Post. In the first round of the election on Sunday, Macron ran against far-right candidate Le Pen and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. To win the election, a candidate must receive at least 50 percent of the vote. Macron received 28 percent, Le Pen garnered 23 percent and Mélenchon received 22 percent. Polls suggest that Le Pen is trailing Macron by a much closer margin in this race than she did in the 2017 presidential runoff election, which she lost by more than 30 percentage points. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy claimed that Russia has deployed tens of thousands of troops in preparation of new attacks on eastern Ukraine, writes NBC News. In an address to South Korea’s parliament, Zelenskyy reported that “the occupiers have sent dozens of thousands of soldiers and colossal numbers of equipment to prepare new attacks." Maxar Technologies reportedly captured images of the newly deployed Russian forces that show an 8-mile long convoy of military personnel and vehicles headed south toward the Donbas region that is purported to be the center of Russia’s new offensive operations. 

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer will travel to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the Financial Times. Nehammer will be the first European leader to meet with Putin since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over six weeks ago. According to Austrian chancellery officials, Nehammer intends to advocate for a “dialogue” between Russia and Ukraine. The Austrian chancellor also will reportedly aim to address the issue of war crimes allegedly committed by Russian forces against Ukrainians. 

Finland and Sweden are likely to join NATO as soon as the summer, reports The Times. In response to the report, Russia issued a statement asserting that the addition of the Nordic countries to the bloc confirms that “the alliance remains a tool geared towards confrontation” and would ultimately weaken European security, according to BBC News. 

After a change in its assessment of the security threat posed by the United States, China rapidly expanded its nuclear arsenal, writes the Wall Street Journal. In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Chinese leaders are reportedly aiming to strengthen their nuclear arsenal to deter potential U.S. involvement in conflict over Taiwan. This year, China increased work on over 100 missile silos used to store nuclear-tipped missiles capable of reaching the continental United States.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted from parliament after a majority no-confidence vote on Saturday, according to the New York Times. Despite fears and rising political tensions, Khan’s removal from government did not prompt military intervention. Khan lashed out against political opponents, calling them traitors and accusing them of conspiring with U.S. officials to have him kicked out of power. Pakistan’s parliament tried to hold a no-confidence vote earlier this month, but the effort failed after Khan defied the Constitution and dissolved the parliament to prevent it from holding a vote. This action was then overturned by a ruling by the Pakistani Supreme Court four days ago , which prompted this week’s vote in parliament. 

President Biden announced a ban on unlicensed kits used to assemble an illegal working firearm commonly referred to as a “ghost gun,” reports the Hill. In an attempt to limit the proliferation of untraceable firearms in the United States, the new rule bans “buy build shoot kits” sold online or in stores that are used to construct a gun in less than 30 minutes. Individuals who purchase the kits are most often not subjected to background checks. Biden’s new rule now classifies the kits as “firearms” under the Gun Control Act, which requires that commercial manufacturers of the kits be licensed and conduct a background check on potential buyers.

ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare

Stephanie Foggett outlined how the Russian military's poor performance and apparent war crimes in Ukraine demonstrate the hollowness of its hyper-masculine propaganda.
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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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