Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Katherine Pompilio
Friday, April 29, 2022, 1:31 PM

 Lawfare’s daily roundup of national security news and opinion.

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More than 3,000 refugees died or went missing while traveling across the Mediterranean and Atlantic oceans last year in an attempt to reach Europe, reports the U.N Refugee Agency. According to a report released by the agency, 1,924 people were reported dead or missing along the Central and Western Mediterranean routes to Europe while an additional 1,153 died or went missing on the Northwest African route to the Canary Islands in Spain. The migrants reportedly traveled along these maritime routes in crowded, inflatable boats that often capsized, deflated or drifted off course. The report details that the use of these “unseaworthy” boats most likely led to the deaths or disappearances of these refugees on their long journey across the ocean to asylum. 

Ukrainian authorities filed charges against 10 members of the Russian military for war crimes allegedly committed in Bucha, writes the Wall Street Journal. After an investigation, Ukrainian prosecutors accused the 10 noncommissioned Russian officers of taking Ukrainian civilians hostage and mistreating them. After the withdrawal of Russian forces from Bucha in late March, Ukrainian authorities found 400 dead civilians strewn across the town’s streets or packed tightly into hastily dug mass graves. Authorities report that many bodies of civilians had bullet wounds and/or had their hands tied behind their backs. Residents of Bucha that survived the attack also reportedly told investigators that they were held captive and tortured by Russian soldiers. 

President Biden submitted a request to Congress for an additional $33 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine to assist in their fight against Russia, according to NBC News. Biden reportedly asked for $20 billion in military and security assistance for Ukraine—including weapons and ammunition. The president also requested $8.5 billion to be allocated to address Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis and to stop the spread of Russian disinformation about the war. Additionally, Biden’s request included $3 billion for more humanitarian assistance to address global food shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

A new pipeline along the Greece-Bulgaria border is expected to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy, reports ABC News. In response to Western sanctions, Russia recently cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.  The 110-mile pipeline—known as the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria—will give Bulgaria access to ports in Greece that hold liquefied natural gas, and will also help to obtain gas from Azerbaijan via another new pipeline system that ends in Italy. The pipeline is set to begin commercial operation in June and is anticipated to increase gas flows between Greece and Bulgaria to generate electricity, increase Europe’s fuel supply and heat homes. 

Gun thefts across the U.S. are rising and leading to more crime, writes the Wall Street Journal. According to data compiled by the Wall Street Journal, accounts of gun theft reported to police increased by 29 percent in 10 major cities over the past two years. Police and criminologists claim that the rise in gun thefts is directly related to the increasing homicide rate in the United States. Crime experts suspect that the rise in theft may be attributed to an increase in first-time gun owners who they believe are more likely to be careless about where they keep their guns, such as unattended in their vehicles. 

The premier of the British Virgin Islands was arrested in the U.S. on drug trafficking and money laundering charges, according to the New York Times. Premier Andrew Fahie was charged with conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to import at least five kilograms of a “cocaine mixture'' into the U.S. to be distributed in Miami and New York. Fahie allegedly requested a payment of $500,000 for the drug trafficking transaction. The British Virgin Islands’s director of ports and her son also face these charges. 

A man on trial for his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol testified that he assaulted a Capitol Police officer in self defense, reports the Washington Post. Former New York City police officer Thomas Webster was charged with assaulting a police officer at the U.S. Capitol riot. Video evidence from the Capitol officer’s body camera footage shows an altercation with Webster after the former New York police officer “slammed’ a bike rack into him. Capitol Police Officer Noah Ratbun claims that he punched Webster in an attempt to move him back from the security perimeter around the Capitol. On the witness stand, Webster testified that he believed Ratbun had “gone rogue” and acted in a “manner unlike other police officers.” 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Evelyn Douek sat down with Charlotte Willner, executive director of the Trust and Safety Professionals Association, to discuss what it was like trying to build a content moderation system from the ground up and if she had any advice for new Twitter owner Elon Musk given all her experience helping keep platforms safe.

Farzaneh Badiei compared how the U.S. and Chinese governments use tools to regulate users’ behavior online. 

David Priess shared an episode of Chatter which features a conversation between Shane Harris and filmmaker Nicholas Meyer about the renewed threat of nuclear war amid the conflict in Ukraine.

Alvaro Marañon posted the joint “Declaration for the Future of the Internet” which affirms the political commitment among 60 global partners to promote a more positive vision for the internet and technology.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

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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