Your Tuesday Briefing: Russia Talks of Diplomacy

We’re covering a possible shift from Ukraine on joining NATO, and Canada’s next move to end protests.

A Russian submarine passing through the Bosporus in Istanbul en route to the Black Sea on Sunday. Russia has reinforced its Black Sea fleet over the past week.Credit…Burak Kara/Getty Images

Ukraine hints at giving up NATO ‘dream’

With Russian warships massing off Ukraine’s Black Sea coast and the U.S. warning of an imminent invasion, Ukraine’s president hinted at a major concession, suggesting that his country might have to abandon the possibility of joining NATO.

“Maybe the question of open doors is for us like a dream,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday.

The comment came just as Russia’s top diplomat said that the possibilities to reach a diplomatic resolution to the crisis were “far from exhausted.” Western officials have expressed fears that the window for diplomacy may be closing after a phone call between President Biden and President Vladimir Putin of Russia over the weekend resulted in “no fundamental change in the dynamic,” according to the White House.

Military moves: Russian and Belarusian fighter jets held large-scale joint military exercises, including in airspace near Ukraine, fueling further concerns of an attack. This map shows the estimated 130,000 Russian troops, in addition to tanks and heavy artillery, that are moving into positions. Videos, satellite images and social media posts reveal the scale and intensity of the deployments.

Closer look: Our correspondent traveled along the Dnieper River to explore what it means to be Ukrainian at this moment of peril. A people long divided by disputes has begun to stitch together a sense of common purpose in the face of a menacing foe.

Police officers gathered to clear protesters at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario on Sunday.Credit…Jeff Kowalsky/Agence France-Presse, via Getty Images

Trudeau weighs invoking Emergencies Act

After the Canadian police cleared protesters from a bridge that serves as a critical economic link between the U.S. and Canada, traffic began moving again on Monday. However, the protests continued to disrupt the nation’s capital, Ottawa, for a third week.

The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was considering whether to invoke the Emergencies Act, which would temporarily confer enormous power to the authorities to restore public order. Here are our live updates.

Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, announced that the province would soon stop requiring people to show proof of vaccination to enter indoor spaces — though he insisted the change was not a concession to the demonstrators.

Context: Trudeau has come under criticism for not being proactive enough and for allowing the demonstrators to temporarily blockade a vital border crossing and turn the streets of Ottawa into an unruly mess.

Public response: Canadians do not appear to support the protesters’ demands for an end to pandemic restrictions. Nearly 45 percent of Canadians said in a poll that the protests had made them more inclined to support indoor masking and vaccination requirements to cross the border.

Kamila Valieva of Russia trained in Beijing on Sunday. Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times

Russian skater can compete, but won’t receive medals

Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old Russian figure skating star who tested positive for a banned drug, will be allowed to continue competing at the Beijing Olympics this week, but officials said they would withhold her medals until her case was resolved.

Valieva was widely seen as a favorite to win the women’s singles event that begins today until it was revealed that she had failed a doping test. Now, the Olympic committee’s extraordinary decision to allow Valieva to continue competing will cast a shadow over one of the Games’ premier events until her case is resolved — which could take months.

The ruling could have a lasting impact. Russia was barred from officially participating in the last three Olympics after it was revealed that it had conducted a state-sponsored doping scheme.

In other Olympics news:

  • For many countries, hosting the Games makes no economic sense. But for China, national pride and an enthusiasm for building infrastructure may just make it worth the cost.

  • The U.S. and Canada will meet again in the gold medal game in women’s hockey.


Asia Pacific

Xi Jinping arriving for the closing meeting of the National People’s Congress in March 2019 in Beijing.Credit…Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
  • It is increasingly clear that President Xi Jinping of China plans another five-year term. If he has ideas about a successor, he has hidden them well.

  • The popular sitcom “Friends” has become the latest target of China’s censorship campaign. The awkward cuts have not been missed by fans of the show.

  • The chief justice of Nepal’s Supreme Court was suspended after lawmakers voted to impeach him on accusations of removing the former prime minister in exchange for political jobs for relatives.

  • About 500 tons of raw ivory are shipped to illegal markets in China and Southeast Asia each year. Now scientists are hoping to stop elephant poaching by using genetic investigations techniques.

Around the World

  • Prime Minister Naftali Bennett became the first Israeli leader to take an official visit to Bahrain, highlighting the strengthening ties between Israel and some Arab governments.

  • Nicaragua’s government said it brought several universities under state control because they failed to comply with financial regulations. Many see the move as President Daniel Ortega’s latest effort to clamp down on dissent.

  • The Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl.

  • The megadrought in the American Southwest has become so severe that the region is now the driest it has been in at least 1,200 years, scientists said. Climate change is largely responsible.

  • Camilla, the wife of Prince Charles, tested positive for the coronavirus, four days after her husband was reported to be infected.

A Morning Read

Organic cotton harvested in Kasrawad, India.Credit…Saumya Khandelwal for The New York Times

India produces half of the world’s organic cotton, a significant increase from just a year ago. However, much of this growth is fake, say Indians who source, process and grow organic cotton. At the heart of the problem is a certification system rife with opportunities for fraud — a game of “smoke and mirrors” in which nearly the entire supply chain is implicated.

Lives Lived: Ivan Reitman, the director of “Ghostbusters,” whose movies imprinted their antics on the funny bones of a generation of filmgoers, died at 75.


Cyclone Batsirai left many houses damaged near the beach in Mananjary, Madagascar.Credit…Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

An intense cyclone season

The southern Indian Ocean is swirling with storms, creating cyclones that have battered islands and Africa’s southeast coast and brought heavy rains far inland. Madagascar has been hardest hit this year, suffering two major storms in less than a month.

Tropical Storm Ana brought heavy rain and flooding in late January, leaving more than 70 people dead across Madagascar, Mozambique and landlocked Malawi. Most of the dead were in the Madagascan capital city Antananarivo, a high-lying, inland city unaccustomed to dealing with cyclones.

Then, on Friday, Cyclone Batsirai brought winds at speeds that ripped roofs off buildings, folding corrugated iron and twisting it into trees. At least 120 people were killed as the cyclone crossed from east to west of Madagascar.

Over the weekend, while meteorologists kept an eye on Cliff, a tropical storm that eventually bypassed the island, Tropical Storm Dumako was forming off the coast of Madagascar. Dumako is expected to make landfall today, bringing with it heavy rain.

In recent years, the links between storms and climate change have become more apparent. Research suggests that cyclones and hurricanes are becoming wetter because warm air holds more moisture. And, powerful storms are occurring more frequently because warmer oceans provide more energy to fuel them. Scientists think that trend will persist as global warming continues.

“It can be expected that, with the expected rise in sea-surface temperatures, tropical cyclones can become more intense and be sustained for longer periods,” said Andries Kruger, chief scientist at the South African Weather Service.

The number of storms overall, though, could drop as a result of global warming. That’s because factors like stronger wind shear could keep some storms from forming.


What to Cook

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Chicken with tomatoes and capers is simple and delicious.

What to Watch

Have you seen the new Netflix series “Inventing Anna”? Here’s what it gets right (and wrong).

What to Read

Isaac Fellman’s “Dead Collections” explores romance and sci-fi through the eyes of a transgender vampire.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Tempt (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. — Matthew

P.S. The Times’s multimedia Olympics package, which began with “What Scares the World’s Most Daring Olympians,” examines the paradox of fear at such a competitive level.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about an N.F.L. discrimination lawsuit.

Lynsey Chutel wrote the Arts and Ideas section. You can reach Matthew and the team at [email protected].

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