Your Tuesday Briefing: A Diplomatic Clash Over Ukraine

We’re covering a diplomatic showdown at the U.N. over Ukraine and an investigation into British government parties held during lockdown.

Russia and the United States clashed at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday.Credit…Andrew Kelly/Reuters

U.S. confronts Russia over Ukraine

The United States and Russia engaged in a public diplomatic brawl Monday at the U.N. Security Council over the Ukraine crisis. Follow our live updates.

“The situation we are facing in Europe is urgent and dangerous,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador. “Russia’s actions strike at the very heart of the U.N. charter.” Russia objected to having the meeting at all, calling it “an attempt to mislead the international community” and an example of “megaphone diplomacy.”

The meeting of 15 nations, requested by the U.S. last week, represented the highest-profile arena for the two powers to sway world opinion over Ukraine. As expected, it adjourned with no action taken.

Where things stand: More than a month of bluster and posturing, menacing military maneuvers and high-level diplomatic meetings have not made the security crisis gripping Europe any easier to assess. A full-scale invasion would be likely to result in fierce fighting and potentially the worst bloodshed on the continent since the end of World War II.

On the ground: A wave of bomb threats across Ukraine has intensified an already anxious mood.

A video of a chained woman stirs anger in China

A video posted by a blogger on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, showed a mentally ill woman in rural China who appeared to have been chained up by her family.

Officials in Jiangsu Province, where the video was filmed last week, initially issued a terse statement in response to the fury on social media. The woman,according to the statement, had been diagnosed with mental illness, but “at present, she has already been treated, and her family has been given further assistance, to ensure they have a warm Lunar New Year.”

That response only caused more outrage. A delegate to China’s legislature said she had reported the case to the “relevant leaders.” Hu Xijin, the former editor of the Global Times, said anyone with common sense could see that the woman had been treated inhumanely.

The account of the blogger who originally posted the video was shut down. (The video was soon reposted by social media users on other platforms.) Officials later said they were investigating the woman’s husband.

Context: The episode drew attention to the shaming of people with mental health disorders in China, and the limited legal protections against sexual and domestic abuse.

Related: A migrant worker whose movements were tracked after he tested positive for Covid captivated the nation, and represented the unseen army of workers who keep China running — before mentions of his story were censored.

Crackdown at the Olympics: Athletes arriving at the Beijing Games are encountering some of the most intense security measures ever imposed at an international sporting event. The authorities are rounding up activists and shutting down social media accounts.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on his way to address lawmakers in Parliament.Credit…Neil Hall/EPA, via Shutterstock

Boris Johnson faces another outcry

A highly anticipated British government investigation into the prime minister’s office described heavy workplace drinking at parties that breached pandemic lockdown rules. Lawmakers, including fellow Conservatives, demanded answers from Johnson in Parliament.

The report found that Downing Street suffers from a culture of “excessive” workplace drinking and that it held social gatherings during a period when the government was urging the public to avoid socializing, even with close friends and relatives.

The document described leadership failures in Johnson’s office, without directly implicating him. The London police are conducting a separate investigation, and at their request many of the findings of Monday’s inquiry were abridged and redacted.

Quotable: “Most people followed the Covid rules so religiously, only to find out the person who is leading the country is having parties with cheese and wine while many couldn’t be with their loved ones in hospital,” said Amber Keye, 19, from Stevenage, England.

In other pandemic news:

  • U.S. regulators granted Moderna’s vaccine full approval.

  • Many at-home antigen tests suggest swabbing only an inch into your nose. Here’s why health care workers dig deeper.


Asia Pacific

People purchase Lunar New Year decorations at a market in Hong Kong.Credit…Vincent Yu/Associated Press
  • Lunar New Year celebrations for the Year of the Tiger have been muted, but are also raising hopes of a life closer to pre-pandemic normalcy, The Associated Press reports.

  • North Korea launched its boldest ballistic missile test in years.

  • The leader of Hillsong, an Australia-based megachurch, resigned as he prepares to fight a criminal charge of concealing historical child sexual abuse by his father.

  • Angry protests have erupted in the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh over a lack of railway jobs for young people, Reuters reports.

Around the World

Asset Abishev, a Kazakh political activist, 11 days after he was released from police custody in January.Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
  • Security forces in Kazakhstan cracked down on protesters in January with beatings and torture, human rights groups say.

  • Sexual misconduct allegations against four men appearing on the Dutch version of “The Voice” talent show have triggered a national reckoning and a surge in reports of sexual assaults.

  • Book ban efforts are surging across the United States, as parents, lawmakers and school officials try to remove titles about race, gender and sexuality.

  • Spotify responded to calls for a boycott over Covid-19 misinformation promoted by Joe Rogan by adding a “content advisory” to vaccine-related podcasts.

A Morning Read

Workers make mats and carpets out of recycled plastic outside of Senegal’s capital Dakar.Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Plastic waste has exploded in Senegal, giving rise to an industry built around recycling. Trash pickers make a living by collecting the plastic from dump sites as part of a huge informal economy. Senegal now wants government regulators to step in, leaving thousands worried about their livelihoods.


Sundance, at home

The Sundance Film Festival — virtual for a second year — wrapped this past weekend. “At a time when many of us are worried about the health of movies,” the film critic ​​A.O. Scott writes, “it offers proof of life.”

Among the festival’s notable films: Jesse Eisenberg’s directorial debut, “When You Finish Saving the World,” about an Indiana teenager struggling with romance; “Navalny,” a suspenseful documentary about the Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny; “Nanny,” which subjects its protagonist, a Senegalese immigrant living in New York, to supernatural and psychological scares; and Mariama Diallo’s “Master,” about a Black student and a Black professor on a hostile campus.

One of Scott’s favorite films was Sara Dosa’s “Fire of Love,” which tells the story of a French couple who studied volcanoes. The film’s scenes of violent eruptions and serene lava flows were captured by the couple’s cameras before their deaths in 1991. Here are the festival’s award winners.


What to Cook

Credit…Christopher Simpson for The New York Times

Make chile crisp dumplings for the Lunar New Year.


If you find yourself waiting for life to return to normal, try strategies to become more resilient and comfortable with uncertainty.

What to Watch

“The Afterparty” on Apple TV+ is a murder mystery that toys with Hollywood clichés.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: pink wine (four letters).

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Melina

P.S. The Times sealed a three-year agreement to bring Times digital access to students at four-year universities across South Korea.

The latest episode of The Daily is a conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Sanam Yar wrote the Arts and Ideas section. You can reach Melina and the team at [email protected].

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