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What We’re Watching: Zelensky at the UN, French race tightens, Sri Lankan crisis worsens

What We’re Watching: Zelensky at the UN, French race tightens, Sri Lankan crisis worsens

Zelensky addresses the UN Security Council in a video message

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

Zelensky wants justice over Russian war crimes

In his first address to the UN Security Council, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday said Russians accused of war crimes in Ukraine must be brought to justice, noting that the atrocities in Bucha and elsewhere are the worst Europe has seen since World War II. Prior to Zelensky’s speech, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is working with the UN-backed International Criminal Court to investigate the alleged war crimes. The International Court of Justice has already ordered Russia to cease and desist but has no authority to enforce its ruling. But some argue that pursuing indictments during ongoing conflicts can frustrate efforts toward peace agreements, thereby raising the risk of further atrocities. Meanwhile, the mounting allegations are putting more pressure on Western powers to slap harsher sanctions on Moscow — perhaps even targeting Russian oil and coal by the EU.

French presidential race tightens

Don’t look now, but a growing number of French voters aren’t ready to give Emmanuel Macron a second term as Président de la République. Ahead of first-round presidential voting on Sunday, new polls are giving the campaign of right-wing populist and political veteran Marine Le Pen a jolt of electricity. For a potential second-round matchup, one poll has Macron with just a six-point lead over Le Pen. Another poll published Monday put Macron’s lead in a potential runoff at just three points. (In 2017, he bested her in the second round by 32 points.) The war in Ukraine has given Macron an opportunity to play the global statesman and to avoid the rough and tumble of a campaign. He even skipped a televised debate. But some voters may want to see him work a bit harder. If Le Pen has a strong showing in Sunday’s first round, expect rising anxiety about what a victory for Le Pen, who has expressed past admiration for Vladimir Putin, might mean for the war. Though she has called Russia’s invasion a violation of international law, she says it has only “partly changed” her view of Putin.

"Go Gota Go" in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's economic crisis may soon mean it’s game over for embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. In recent days, he’s lost his majority in parliament after more than 40 MPs ditched the ruling coalition. His new finance minister quit a day after being sworn in, and the central bank chief resigned right when he was set to announce an interest rate hike to save the country's currency and tame sky-high inflation. What's more, opposition parties declined to form a national unity government because it would still be led by Rajapaksa with his brother. The family has become politically toxic, with most Sri Lankans blaming them for mismanagement that has caused the country's worst-ever economic and debt crisis, leaving state coffers empty of foreign currency to pay for basic imports such as fuel. Chanting "Go Gota Go," protesters are defying the state of emergency and curfew to demand that Rajapaksa step down. The president is hanging on by a thread and is still backed by the powerful army. Will the military keep him in power at all costs?


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