Your Wednesday Briefing

President Biden said his administration had not verified Russia’s claim that it was pulling troops back.Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

Biden says invasion still ‘distinctly possible’

President Biden said yesterday at the White House that a Russian invasion of Ukraine “remains distinctly possible,” but he vowed to give diplomacy “every chance.”

Biden added that U.S. officials had not verified President Vladimir Putin’s claim hours earlier that Russia would “partially pull back troops” from Ukraine’s border.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, also said members of the alliance “have not seen any sign of de-escalation.”

In a meeting on Tuesday with Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, Putin said he was seeking a “diplomatic path” to resolving the tense standoff with the West, but he would continue pushing for a rollback of NATO in Eastern Europe and a guarantee that Ukraine would not join the alliance. The Russian Defense Ministry announced that some forces from military districts bordering Ukraine were being sent back to their garrisons.

It was the second straight day that Moscow appeared to swerve away from confrontation over Ukraine, but analysts said it was too early to tell whether the pullback was legitimate.

Quotable: “When we see the withdrawal, we will believe in de-escalation,” Ukraine’s foreign minister said from Kyiv.

Vehicles blocking a road outside Parliament in Ottawa on Tuesday.Credit…Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ottawa police chief resigns amid protests

Peter Sloly, the chief of police in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, resigned on Tuesday, a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the rare step of declaring a national public order emergency. Here are the latest updates.

The police have been criticized for a sluggish response to the trucker protests that have paralyzed downtown Ottawa for almost three weeks. Early on, the police did not prevent the trucks from entering downtown and then took days to install concrete barriers.

Although the main border crossing between Canada and the U.S. has reopened after a weeklong blockade, and protesters have left a crossing in Coutts, Alberta, the protesters in Ottawa largely haven’t budged. The fractious crew includes former law enforcement officers and military veterans.

Much of the trucker convoy’s significant financial support seems to come from wealthy Canadians, though one of the biggest contributions was made in the name of an American tech entrepreneur.

The Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva competing on Tuesday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Valieva tested positive for three heart drugs

The 15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva had three heart drugs in the blood sample she provided before the Beijing Games, a document shows.

Valieva was cleared to compete in the Beijing Games even though trimetazidine, which is banned by antidoping officials, was found in her system. According to documents filed at her hearing, the sample from December also contained traces of two other heart medications, Hypoxen and L-carnitine. Those drugs are not banned, but the latter has surfaced in an antidoping case in running.

A top official from the International Olympic Committee said that Valieva was defending herself by suggesting that she ingested the banned drug by mistake. But the discovery of several substances was highly unusual, according to a prominent antidoping official.

The news came hours after Valieva skated into first place, even after tumbling out of her opening triple axel in the short program. The final free skate is on Thursday.

In other Olympic news:

  • The Americans Alex Hall and Nick Goepper won gold and silver in men’s slopestyle skiing. Jesper Tjader of Sweden won bronze.

  • Germany swept the two-man bobsled competition, winning all three medals.


Other Big Stories

Credit…Honduras National Police
  • Honduran authorities detained the country’s former president, Juan Orlando Hernández, on Tuesday to potentially face extradition and drug charges in the U.S., capping a spectacular downfall for one of Central America’s most powerful men.

  • A woman of mixed race appears to be the third person ever to be cured of H.I.V., using a new method that opens up the possibility of curing more people of diverse racial backgrounds than was previously possible.

  • Prince Andrew settled a lawsuit brought by Virginia Giuffre, a woman who had accused him of raping her when she was a teenage victim of Andrew’s friend, Jeffrey Epstein.

  • Novak Djokovic said he was willing to miss the French Open and Wimbledon over possible vaccine requirements.

  • Mars missions by China and the United Arab Emirates recently reached the one-year mark.

Around the World

Credit…Thomas Terberger
  • A 2,700-year-old bronze statuette recovered from a river in Germany may have been part of an early Scandinavian weight system, some archaeologists believe.

  • In France, Valérie Pécresse, the center-right presidential candidate, helped bring a racist conspiracy theory into the mainstream.

  • At least 10 people died after a Spanish fishing boat carrying 24 people sank about 280 miles off the coast of Newfoundland early Tuesday morning, Spanish officials said.

A Morning Read

Credit…Ronald Patrick for The New York Times

For centuries, Kharnak nomads in northern India have raised yaks and goats in one of the most hauntingly beautiful — and inhospitable — places on earth. Can their traditions outlast a generational exodus?


Cellular meat, anyone?

What does lab-grown sautéed chicken breast taste like?

The Times’s Kim Severson visited a food-technology company in California that grows chicken from animal stem cells. The meat, she writes, “had less chew but much more flavor than a typical grocery-store breast.”

Credit…Gabriela Hasbun for The New York Times

Supporters say cell-based meat — which begins with animal stem cells and feeds on a complex broth of nutrients — could lessen the environmental impact of industrial meat production and reduce animal suffering. Meat companies, government agencies and investors like Bill Gates see cell-based meat as a way to expand alternative meat production. Critics caution that the environmental benefits are unproven, and that the scientific process to create the meat could introduce allergens.

Engineered chicken is a long way from hitting the grocery store, though: Only a few hundred people in the world have purchased cellular meat, all of them in Singapore, the first nation to approve it.


What to Cook

Credit…Kate Sears for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

A glossy brown sugar meringue crowns this blood orange pie.

What to Watch

High school is hard enough without a zombie outbreak: “All of Us Are Dead” is the latest global hit on Netflix.

What to Read

In “Walking the Bowl,” Chris Lockhart and Daniel Mulilo Chama stumble upon a real-life murder mystery in a dump in Zambia.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Figure skating jump (four letters).

And here is the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Tell us about your experience with the newsletter in this short survey here. Thank you!

And thanks for joining me. — Melina

P.S. Maya King is joining The Times from Politico to cover politics in the Southeast.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about how Ukrainians view the Russian threat.

You can reach the team at [email protected].

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