Background Briefing: March 16, 2022


Having Been Fought to a Standstill, Russia Now Appears Interested in Peace

We begin with the possibility of a peace deal to end the war in Ukraine now that Zelensky is signaling that the Russians are more realistic in their demands and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said “some formulations for an agreement are near completion, with neutral status for Kyiv under ‘serious’ consideration”. Joining us is Emma Ashford,  a resident senior fellow with the New American Engagement Initiative in the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at The Atlantic Council as well as a nonresident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point. With expertise in the politics of the Middle East, Russia, Europe, her work focuses on questions of grand strategy, international security, and the future of US foreign policy, we discuss the similarities of the war in Ukraine to Stalin’s war against Finland and the need for a peace broker to make sure that a Russian ceasefire is not used to resupply and rearm then resume fighting.


Biden Calls Putin a War Criminal as Mounting Evidence in Ukraine Makes the Case

Then, with President Biden saying today that he thinks Putin is a war criminal, we speak with Michael Newton, Professor of Law and Political Science at Vanderbilt Law School specializing in terrorism, accountability, transnational justice and conduct of hostilities issues. An authority on the law of armed conflict, he served in the U.S. Army for more than 21 years and served as the senior adviser to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the U.S. State Department from January 1999 to August 2002, during which he negotiated the “Elements of Crimes” for the International Criminal Court. We discuss his article at CNN, “Russian invaders are crossing a line.”


The Possibility Russia Might Use Chemical Weapons in Ukraine

Then finally we examine the possibility of chemical and biological weapons being used by the Russians in Ukraine and speak with Gregory Koblentz, a Professor and Director of the Master’s in Biodefense and PhD in Biodefense at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University where he is also an Associate Faculty at the Center for Security Policy Studies. A member of the Scientist Working Group on Chemical and Biological Weapons at the Center for Arms Control, he is the author of Living Weapons: Biological Warfare and International Security.