Your Tuesday Briefing: Fighting Rages On
We’re covering Putin’s escalation amid widespread resistance, and Hong Kong hospitals’ struggles to keep up.
A school destroyed in Ukraine near its border with Russia.Credit…Sergey Bobok/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Kharkiv is bombed as Ukraine and Russia meet
Delegations from Ukraine and Russia met in Belarus for hours of talks on Monday while Ukrainian officials accused Russians of bombing a residential area in Kharkiv and killing dozens. Follow our live updates, maps of the war and timeline of the crisis.
Initial talks between Russia and Ukraine concluded without result on Monday evening. Kyiv is seeking a cease-fire in Ukraine and an end to hostilities; the Kremlin’s demands include the recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea, and that Ukraine demilitarize and gives up a right to join NATO.
Russian forces were gathering outside Kyiv, British intelligence showed, but they were slowed by fierce resistance from Ukrainian soldiers and civilian volunteers. Moscow’s actions have fueled nationwide resistance, forced half a million refugees to flee Ukraine and left Russia to deal with growing sanctions and isolation.
Economy: The ruble cratered as Western sanctions shook Russia’s economy. The public rushed to get cash, and the Russian stock market was closed.
Sanctions: The U.S. froze assets of the Russian Central Bank that are held in the U.S. and imposed sanctions on the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Switzerland, a favorite destination for Russian oligarchs’ money, announced on Monday that it would freeze Russian assets.
Closer look: Our reporters visited the basement shelter of a children’s hospital in Kyiv, a vivid reminder of the toll of war.
Sports: FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, ejected Russia from qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
Geopolitics: Germany made a foreign policy U-turn and boosted military spending after dropping its resistance to other measures. The U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia steered clear of condemning Russia, abstaining from a U.N. resolution on the invasion. After Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces on alert, President Biden responded with de-escalation.
Hong Kong hospitals can’t keep up
Dead bodies are left on gurneys in hospital hallways, and patients are waiting on the streets outside as Hong Kong’s biggest Covid wave overloads the health system.
Officials said they were struggling to move the deceased to the public morgues quickly enough. The city’s hospital authority blamed transportation delays. Hong Kong’s three public mortuaries, which can take up to 3,000 bodies, are nearly full. More than 400 people died from Covid-19 last week, according to the latest official statistics.
The news comes as the city is struggling to tamp down an Omicron-fueled outbreak, with more than 26,000 cases and 83 deaths reported on Sunday.
Public hospitals are overwhelmed as many of the sick have rushed to seek medical help. Over the last two weeks, Hong Kong has recorded an 821 percent spike in new cases, according to a New York Times database. Hospitals have run out of beds in isolation wards.
Details: Covid has surged through nursing homes, but older residents are still among the city’s least vaccinated and most skeptical.
Strategy: The surge is putting Hong Kong’s strict zero-Covid strategy to the test. Chinese officials and local pro-Beijing politicians have been calling for more stringent controls, including a citywide lockdown. But Hong Kong lacks the resources that mainland officials have used for such measures.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
South Korea said it would temporarily stop checking for proof of vaccination at restaurants and other venues in order to free up workers to focus on its Omicron surge.
Wales and Scotland moved to relax some pandemic restrictions.
New York City plans to end school mask and indoor proof-of-vaccination mandates.
A meticulous U.N. study of climate dangers
The dangers of climate change are mounting so rapidly that they could soon overwhelm the ability of both nature and humanity to adapt unless greenhouse gas emissions are quickly reduced, according to a major new scientific report released on Monday.
The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the U.N., is the most detailed look yet at the threats posed by global warming.
Written by 270 researchers from 67 countries, the report is “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership,” said António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general.
If average warming passes 1.5 degrees Celsius, even humanity’s best efforts to adapt could falter, the report warns. But achieving that goal would require nations to all but eliminate their fossil-fuel emissions by 2050, and most are far off track.
Impact: The perils are visible, the report said. In 2019, extreme weather displaced more than 13 million people across Asia and Africa. Humanity’s ability to feed itself is coming under strain. Roughly half the world’s population faces severe water scarcity for at least part of the year.
Related: The U.S. Supreme Court could deal a sharp blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to address climate change.
THE LATEST NEWS
Pyeongchang, one of South Korea’s poorest regions, hoped that hosting the 2018 Olympic Games would bring tourists and prosperity. It hasn’t really happened.
At least nine people died after torrential rain brought floods to Queensland, Australia.
Singapore’s Supreme Court declined on Monday to overturn a colonial-era law criminalizing gay sex, saying that because it was not enforced, the legal challenges did not stand.
Around the World
In Germany’s former Communist East, security officials worry that a long-running movement against Covid restrictions is becoming an incubator of political violence.
Estée Lauder said on Monday that it had asked John Demsey, a top executive, to leave the company after he posted a meme containing a racial slur on his Instagram account.
The movie “CODA” and the actors Jessica Chastain and Will Smith took top prizes at the SAG Awards, often considered a precursor to the Oscars.
A Morning Read
When she left Kabul, Aria Rahmati brought a ring that had been given to her by the man she loved, an Afghan special forces soldier. Yalda Royan, a single mother and women’s rights activist, brought her Quran. We spoke to Afghan refugees about some of the keepsakes they chose in the few hours they had to collect their belongings and set out for a new life.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Return to officewear
When both Alessandro Michele of Gucci and Donatella Versace (not to mention Dolce & Gabbana and Ambush) open their shows with a suit — dark, tailored, slightly oversize — something clearly is going on. And it’s not elastic waists, leggings and flats.
But then, the world is not such a comforting place at the moment.
“For the last few weeks I have felt myself getting very serious,” said Walter Chiapponi of Tod’s, who also began his no-nonsense show of plush tailoring with a somber, single-breasted dark pantsuit under a dark overcoat.
It began its runway re-emergence in New York last week, and it now appears to be reaching critical mass: A suit that makes you feel immediately girded for the day may be the garment best, well, suited for the times.
Also in fashion: In Manhattan, a showroom highlights six designers with roots and family in Ukraine.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Using the slow-roast method for this chicken with garlicky green beans and sage takes it up a notch.
What to Read
Our editors’ picks of the best new books include a high-octane thriller and meticulous, well-crafted short stories.
Your self-worth is not in your inbox.
Now Time to Play
Here’s the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Thigh muscle, informally (four letters).
Play today’s Wordle. (If you’re worried about your stats and streak, play in the browser you’ve been using.)
And here is the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Melina
P.S. Jamie Lauren Keiles, a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine, was a recipient of the 2022 ASME NEXT Award for Journalists Under 30.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the battle for Kyiv.
Whet Moser wrote the Arts and Ideas section. You can reach Melina and the team at [email protected].