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President Biden and Russian President Vladamir Putin spoke on a call Tuesday, in which Biden was expected to warn Putin that an invasion of Ukraine would trigger grave consequences from the United States and its allies, writes the Wall Street Journal. A new intelligence report revealed that Russian troops are massing on the Ukrainian border with Russia, signalling Russia is preparing for military escalation. A senior Biden administration official said ahead of the call that the administration has a plan involving “[s]ubstantial economic countermeasures by both the Europeans and the United States that would impose significant severe economic harm on the Russian economy should they choose to proceed.”
The Chinese government threatened the Biden administration on Tuesday with retaliation against its decision to declare a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, warning that bilateral relations between the countries will suffer, reports CNN. The White House cited that China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang” as the reason the United States will not send an official delegation to the Winter Games, but athletes will still be permitted to compete. While some Chinese diplomats and state media employees have offered a more nonchalant response to the boycott, there is some concern that the United States will be joined by more countries, such as the U.K., Canada and Australia. The Chinese mission to the United Nations called the move evidence that the United States has a Cold War mentality.
The Ethiopian government said late Monday that its forces have recaptured the strategic towns of Dessie and Kombolcha in their latest territorial gains in the battle against Tigrayan rebel fighters, says the New York Times. The two cities are important to both the rebels and government forces because of their location on a crucial highway that connects Ethiopia to the ports of neighboring Djibouti. The civil war, now in its 14th month, has claimed thousands of lives and displaced upward of two million people.
Republican senators introduced the Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act on Monday, a bill intended on thwarting the Palestinian Authority’s policy of paying a salary to the families of alleged Palestinian terrorists killed or imprioned by Israeli troops, known as “martyr payments,” writes the Hill. The bill would open foreign banks to U.S. sanctions if they are found to have knowingly processed the payments. The legislation builds on the 2018 Taylor Force Act which banned U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority over the same policy, which has been dubbed by opponents as the “pay-to-slay” program. Lawmakers claim “martyr payments” incentivize Palestinians to carry out terrorist attacks.
In an abrupt reversal, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said that he will no longer be cooperating with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, according to the New York Times. Meadows’s lawyer, George J. Terwilliger III, wrote in a letter to the panel with a litany of complaints against the committee, including a complaint that the committee did not appear to respect former President Trump’s assertion of executive privilege.  Terwilliger also said he learned that the committee issued a subpoena for “intensely personal communications” that had no relevance to the investigation.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday that the omicron variant of the coronavirus may be less severe than previous strains, but could also be more transmissible and lead to more mutations in the future, says CNBC. Bourla stated he expects omicron cases to surge into the millions over the next few weeks.
ICYMI: This Weekend on Lawfare
Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast in which Benjamin Wittes, Lt. Col. (ret.) Alexander Vindman and Dominic Cruz Bustillos discussed the situation on the Ukrainian-Russian border on last week’s Lawfare Live.
Devin DeBacker analyzed how the president can shape the role and authority of the national cyber director within the executive branch.
Mary Brooks and Paul Rosenzweig explored how crowd-forecasting techniques may decrease the cybersecurity knowledge deficit.
Colby Galliher and Ishita Krishan wrote about the history of conflict over land management in the West and the federal measures needed to mitigate the climate risks that threaten modern agricultural producers.
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