Today’s Headlines and Commentary

Benjamin Pollard
Wednesday, July 13, 2022, 4:29 PM

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Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe took over as acting president of Sri Lanka while President Gotabaya Rajapaska fled to the Maldives. Rajapaska’s decision to appoint Wickremesinghe to the post angered protestors, who stormed the prime minister’s residence and were tear gassed by police. Wickremesinghe initially declared a state of emergency and instituted a curfew; he later canceled the restrictions but added that they would be reintroduced later.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He to discuss potentially capping the price of Russian oil. China is one of the biggest buyers of Russian oil, making the country central to Yellen’s efforts to limit Russian oil revenue, which is helping finance Russia’s war in Ukraine. Yellen also plans to discuss a price cap with Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a G20 finance minister meeting in Indonesia, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Ukrainian forces claim to have struck a Russian ammunition depot in Kherson. Russian-allied officials in the region said that the attack caused damage to a humanitarian aid center, a hospital, and local residences. Russian media reported that the strike—which some  say was carried out using a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMRAS) supplied by the U.S.—killed seven people and wounded dozens more. The differing accounts could not be verified, reports the New York Times.

A U.S. naval destroyer sailed near the Paracel Islands—disputed land in the South China Sea. Beijing, which claims ownership over most of the South China Sea, ordered the vessel to leave. Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, among others, hold competing claims to the area. The U.S. Navy said that the destroyer’s movements were intended to “(uphold) the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea.”

A U.S. drone strike in Syria killed a senior ISIS official, Maher al-Agal, President Biden announced yesterday. A high-ranking close associate of al-Agal was seriously injured in the operation. There were no civilian casualties from the strike, according to Central Command. Biden said counterterrorism operations against ISIS officials send “a powerful message to all terrorists who threaten our homeland and our interests around the world. The United States will be relentless in its efforts to bring you to justice.”

Mexican President Manuel López Obrador met with President Biden at the White House yesterday, following Obrador’s decision to skip the Summit of the Americas last month. Obrador skipped the meeting due to the Biden Administration’s decision not to invite Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela to the conference. The two leaders discussed migration across the U.S.-Mexico border, efforts to address inflation connected to the war in Ukraine, and the increase in fentanyl trafficking.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Mark Visger argued that a recent speech by the U.K. attorney general may help move states away from a focus on sovereignty to a more productive discussion about peacetime cyber norms.

Lennart Maschmeyer argued that cyber operations are constrained practically by an operational trilemma—emanating from trade-offs in operation speed, intensity, and degree of control—that limits their strategic value.

Benjamin Pollard shared a livestream of day seven of the House select committee hearings.

Stewart Baker shared an episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast in which he sat down with Dave Aitel and Jane Bambauer to discuss, among other topics, hackers who go after legal documents to gain advantages in legal disputes. The episode also includes a special guest appearance by Dmitri Alperovitch to discuss the U.S. effort to keep a Dutch firm from selling chip-making machines to China.

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Benjamin Pollard is a student at Brown University studying history and political science. He is a former intern at Lawfare.

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