Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia reacted with outrage after China's ambassador in Paris appeared to question the sovereignty not only of Ukraine, but all the former Soviet republics. Interviewed on French television April 21, Lu Shaye was asked whether Crimea (unilaterally annexed by Russia in 2014) was part of Ukraine under international law. He replied that Crimea was historically Russian and had been handed over to Ukraine; and then added: "Even these countries of the former Soviet Union do not have an effective status in international law, since there is no international agreement that would specify their status as sovereign countries." Fearing diplomatic censure, Beijing's Foreign Ministry backpedalled, releasing a statement saying: "China respects the sovereign status of former Soviet republics after the Soviet Union's dissolution." (The Guardian, NYT)
Fierce clashes broke out April 15 between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), with at least 56 civilians and dozens of fighters reported dead across Sudan. The fighting began in the capital Khartoum, as the RSF attempted to seize control of the presidential palace and international airport. The RSF was driven back from the airport with air-strikes. Fighting quickly spread to other cities, as the two forces attacked each other's installations and positions. The SAF claims to have taken the main Khartoum RSF base at Karari, as well as the paramilitary force's bases in the cities of Port Sudan, Kassala, Gedaref, Damazin, Kosti and Kadugli. (Al Jazeera, Radio Dabanga, Sudan Tribune, Jurist, PBS)
In Episode 169 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the move by the Kyiv City Council to name a street after Nazi collaborator Volodymyr Kubiyovych, who was instrumental in forming the SS Galizien Division. The plan was quashed by Kyiv's mayor following protests from the Israeli ambassador—but not before internet tankies exploited the affair to portray Ukraine as a "Nazi state." Ironically, this came the same week that President Volodymyr Zelensky honored victims of the Holocaust at the Babi Yar memorial in Kyiv. The unseemly nostalgia for Nazi collaborators who fought the Soviets in World War II is opposed by the leadership of Ukraine's Jewish community—who also vigorously repudiate efforts by Kremlin propagandists to launder Putin's war of aggression and Nazi-like war crimes as "denazification." Russia's fascist pseudo-anti-fascism is likewise repudiated by Ukraine's own bona fide left-wing anti-fascists, in groups such as the Solidarity Collectives, who now support the Ukrainian war effort against the Russian aggression. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
A panel of UN rights experts on April 3 named senior officials and military leaders in South Sudan who they say warrant criminal prosecution for their part in grave atrocities against civilians. A year-long investigation by the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan details the involvement of both government and rebel leaders in widespread extrajudicial killings, as well as rape and sexual slavery.
The UN Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya released a report March 27 finding grounds to believe Libyan authorities and armed groups have been responsible for "a wide array" of war crimes and crimes against humanity in recent years. The report further charged that European Union states have been complicit in crimes against humanity by Libyan forces targeting migrants trying to reach Europe. Legally barred from deporting migrants to Libya, EU governments instead give funding and technical aid to the Libyan Coast Guard, which has been accused of widespread "arbitrary detention, murder, torture, rape, enslavement and enforced disappearance" against migrants since 2016. (UN News, TNH)
The Vatican on March 30 announced a formal rejection of a 15th century theory known as the "Doctrine of Discovery." In a statement, the Church said it "repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent rights of indigenous peoples." The Doctrine of Discovery arose from several Vatican documents, or papal bulls. Key amongst them was the Inter Caetera, issued by Pope Alexander VI in 1493. The document effectively granted Spain the right to claim and spread Christianity to newly "discovered" areas unoccupied by Christians.
Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi appointed former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba as defense minister and deputy prime minister in a cabinet reshuffle on March 24. Bemba, who served as vice president from 2003 to 2006, was convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2016 of crimes against humanity over atrocities allegedly committed by rebels under his command when they intervened in the conflict in the neighboring Central African Republic in 2002. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, but the court overturned his sentence on appeal in 2018. However, five defendants were convicted on charges related to obstruction of justice in the Bemba case. (AfricaNews, France24)
Syrian dictator Bashar Assad arrived in the United Arab Emirates for an official visit March 19—another advance in the attempt to normalize his genocidal regime. The trip was accompanied by more ceremony than Assad's visit to the UAE last year, his first journey to an Arab state since the Syrian revolution began in March 2011. The UAE trip comes after a visit to Oman last month. Days before the UAE visit, Assad was in Moscow for a meeting with Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. In addition to voicing support for Putin's war in Ukraine, Assad told Russian state media that he welcomes any expansion of Moscow's military bases in Syria. (EA Worldview, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, EuroNews)