The U.S. agreed to share evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine with the ICC, the EU prepared sanctions against Belarus, and Africa urged Russia to end the war. Meanwhile, Kyiv called on the International Fencing Federation to reinstate Olha Kharlan at the world championship after she refused to shake hands with her Russian opponent.
The United States will provide the Hague with evidence of Russian war crimes
The U.S. President Joe Biden has quietly ordered the U.S. government to begin sharing evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, according to the New York Times’ sources.
The decision made by Biden overrides months of resistance by the Pentagon, which had argued that it could pave the way for the court to prosecute American troops.
It was unclear why Biden let the impasse linger or what finally led him to resolve it, but he has been under mounting bipartisan pressure to act. Last week, for example, a Senate committee approved a government funding bill that had a provision stating that the president "shall provide information" to the court to assist with its investigations into war crimes in Ukraine.
American intelligence agencies possess information including details about decisions by Russian officials to deliberately strike civilian infrastructure in Ukraine and forcibly deport thousands of Ukrainian children from occupied territory. Already, they have shared some of that evidence with Ukrainian prosecutors but not the International Criminal Court.
The White House has yet to announce the policy reversal or the assistance it will now provide, but it began notifying members of Congress on Tuesday, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.
The EU has prepared new sanctions against Belarus: What they include
The European Union is set to slap on a fresh sanctions package against Belarus after EU ambassadors okayed the raft of measures at a meeting this Wednesday, according to Politico.
The sanctions are set to include export restrictions on dual-use goods like drones or computers that can be used on the battlefield against Ukraine, as well as aviation parts.
The latest package also includes new listings against 38 individuals and 3 entities, according to four EU diplomats who were granted anonymity to speak.
The new sanctions are designed to mirror the export restrictions against Russia, in an effort to crack down on military components being illegally routed through Belarus to Russia.
This round of sanctions was adopted relatively quickly: Ambassadors informally agreed to the measures last Tuesday and they were officially green-lit just eight days later. But a larger discussion over the extent to which Belarus should be sanctioned in comparison to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine has been ongoing for months.
Talks about sanctioning Belarus are particularly complicated because of the question of potassium fertilizers, with EU member countries like Portugal asking for those fertilizers to be exempted from future sanctions to ensure global food security.
Most EU countries are in favor of the carve-out but Lithuania staunchly was opposed, arguing it would give Lukashenko a lifeline and do little to alleviate food insecurity.
Africa demands that Putin stop the war while he pins it on Ukraine
On July 28, African leaders pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to move ahead with their plan to end the war in Ukraine and to renew a deal on the safe wartime export of Ukrainian grain, which Moscow tore up last week, Reuters reports.
While not directly critical of Russia, their interventions on the second day of a summit were more concerted and forceful than before. They reminded the Kremlin’s leader of the depth of African concern at the consequences of the war, especially rising food prices
The African plan put forward in June floats a Russian troop pull-back, removal of Russian tactical nuclear weapons from Belarus, suspension of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant against Putin, and sanctions relief.
"This war must end. And it can only end on the basis of justice and reason. The disruptions of energy and grain supplies must end immediately. The grain deal must be extended for the benefit of all the peoples of the world, Africans in particular," African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat told Putin and African leaders in St Petersburg.
Congo Republic President Denis Sassou Nguesso, Senegal's President Macky Sall, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called for de-escalation and bringing an end to the war through negotiations.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose country is a major buyer of grain via the Black Sea route, urged Russia to revive the Black Sea grain deal.
Putin responded by arguing that it was Kyiv that was refusing to negotiate and that rising world food prices were a consequence of Western policy mistakes long predating the Ukraine war.
Ukraine calls for Olga Kharlan to be reinstated at the world championships
According to The Guardian, Ukraine’s government has called on the International Fencing Federation (FIE) to reverse its decision to disqualify a Ukrainian fencer for refusing to shake hands with her defeated Russian opponent.
The country’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called for Olha Kharlan to be reinstated in the fencing world championships in Milan, after she was excluded as a result of the aftermath of her victory over Anna Smirnova, a Russian competing as a neutral.
"Olha Kharlan won the fair competition and showed dignity," Kuleba said on social media. "I urge [FIE] to restore Kharlan’s rights and allow her to compete."
Mihailo Podolyak, an aide to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, asked: "Doesn’t Russian money smell of blood?"
After her defeat by Kharlan in the women’s saber competition, Smirnova approached the Ukrainian to shake hands, but Kharlan, an Olympic champion, held up her saber instead and walked away. Smirnova refused to move for about 50 minutes and sat on a chair on the fencing piste.
Her protest further angered Ukrainians, who saw it as a deliberate attempt to highlight the absence of a handshake so as to get Kharlan disqualified.
"Anna Smirnova lost the fair competition and decided to play dirty with the handshake show. This is exactly how [the] Russian army acts on the battlefield," Kuleba said.
Ukrainian officials posted what appeared to be screenshots of Smirnova’s social media posts in which she was posing with Russian military personnel in uniform, including her brother.
"As you can see, she openly admires the Russian army, which is killing Ukrainians and destroying our cities," Podolyak said.
Elina Svitolina, the Ukrainian tennis player, called on the FIE to follow the lead of the Women’s Tennis Federation, which has supported her decision not to shake hands with Russians or Belarusians after matches.