Your Wednesday Briefing: Zelensky Addressed the U.N.

Good morning. We’re covering President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the U.N., a modification to Shanghai’s controversial family Covid policy and political tensions ahead of the French presidential election.

President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday.Credit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Zelensky addresses the U.N.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine delivered a fiery speech to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, a day after visiting Bucha, where images have surfaced of civilian bodies in the wake of Russia’s retreat.

Zelensky said that more than 300 people had been tortured and killed in the town north of Kyiv and that soldiers raped women in front of children. He lamented the organization’s inability to stop the bloodshed: “Where is the Security Council?” he asked. “It is obvious that the key institution of the world to protect peace cannot work effectively.” Follow live updates here.

His speech came as the E.U. moved to ban Russian coal imports and the bloc said it was working on soon banning Russian oil. But energy remains a tense issue: Germany, the E.U.’s largest economy, is heavily reliant on Russian energy and can’t simply pull the plug.

The war is moving east as Russia shifts its attention to regions led by separatist governments in Donetsk and Luhansk. Military analysts said supply issues and declining morale had stymied Russian progress and that the “next pivotal battle” would happen in the eastern city of Sloviansk.

Context: It was virtually certain that the Security Council would not agree on any measures against the Kremlin: Russia and its ally China have veto power.

State of the war:

  • As many as 200 people are missing and presumed dead in Borodyanka, a town northwest of Kyiv, after intense aerial bombing.

  • Residents of Nova Basan, about 60 miles east of Kyiv, described beatings and mock executions as part of a monthlong occupation.


  • The E.U. is putting forward a fifth package of sanctions against Moscow, which would cut off Russian vessels from E.U. ports and target two of President Vladimir Putin’s daughters.

  • The U.S. blocked Russia’s access to dollars for bond payments, heightening its risk of default and endangering its international currency reserves.

Other developments:

  • Italy and Spain expelled Russian diplomats on Tuesday, citing security concerns.

  • Hackers are invading Ukrainian websites, broadcasting fake claims that the military has surrendered.

  • Spanish and U.S. authorities seized another yacht owned by a Russian oligarch.

Shanghai is battling its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.Credit…Chen Si/Associated Press

Shanghai modifies Covid policy

In a reversal, Shanghai officials will allow parents who test positive for the coronavirus to stay with their children who have also tested positive. Those families will be sent to centralized isolation facilities.

But parents who test negative will still be separated from their infected children, authorities said, citing China’s national virus-control guidelines.

The policy change follows days of widespread outcry and online fury: Photos and video began circulating of young children crying at a Shanghai hospital. Some photos showed multiple children sharing a crib in what appeared to be a hallway of the hospital. Many said that the response to the virus was worse than the virus itself.

Learn More About France’s Presidential Election

The run-up to the first round of the election has been dominated by issues such as security, immigration and national identity.

  • Suddenly Wide Open: An election that had seemed almost assured to return President Emmanuel Macron to power now appears to be anything but certain as the far-right leader Marine Le Pen surges.
  • The New French Right: A rising nationalist faction has grown its coalition by appealing to Catholic identity and anti-immigrant sentiment.
  • Challenges to Re-election: A troubled factory in Mr. Macron’s hometown shows his struggle in winning the confidence of French workers.
  • Behind the Scene: In France, where political finance laws are strict, control over the media has provided an avenue for billionaires to influence the election.
  • A Political Bellwether: Auxerre has backed the winner in the presidential race for 40 years. This time, many residents see little to vote for.
  • Private Consultants: A report showing that firms like McKinsey earned large sums of money to do work for his government has put Mr. Macron on the defensive.

Officials called the response a clarification of their parental-accompaniment policy, but the hospital acknowledged the photos and video were real and did not deny that Covid-positive families were being separated.

Reaction: Many Weibo users were not appeased, sharing frustrations under a hashtag viewed more than 80 million times.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

  • After two years, South Africa ended its national “state of disaster” over the virus.

  • U.S. senators dropped a proposal for $5 billion in global vaccine funding from a coronavirus aid package that is now focused on the domestic response.

The presidential campaign is heating up, days before the first round of voting begins.Credit…Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Tensions precede French vote

The February death of a Jewish man, Jérémy Cohen, has become a political flashpoint days before French citizens head to the polls to cast their initial ballots for president on Sunday.

The death was initially reported as an accident — Cohen, 31, died after being hit by a tram. But this week new video surfaced, showing Cohen running across the tracks in a Paris suburb to escape a violent assault by a group of young men.

The video raised suspicions that an antisemitic assault had precipitated his death, which some see as a symbol of the problems facing France. Politicians on the far right have been the most vocal; Éric Zemmour, an anti-immigrant pundit whose campaign has recently flagged, brushed over the unknowns, using the incident to depict France as a crime-ridden country.

Background: In 2017, weeks before President Emmanuel Macron’s election, a man threw a 65-year-old Jewish woman named Sarah Halimi out of her window. The drawn-out case exacerbated longstanding concerns in the French Jewish community that authorities minimize or mishandle attacks against Jews.

What’s next: Macron is widely expected to make it past the first round of voting, but the latest polls show that his lead in a potential runoff against Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader, is dwindling and his promises to revitalize industrial areas have yet to materialize.

Context: Zemmour is Jewish, although his rise — propelled by attempts to rehabilitate France’s Vichy regime, which collaborated with the Nazis during World War II — has split France’s Jewish community.


World News

Rights groups say Ali Kushayb, on trial at The Hague, led the brutal campaign in Darfur.Credit… International Criminal Court/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Two decades after a brutal campaign against a rebellion in the Darfur region of western Sudan displaced millions, the first and only war crimes trial is underway in The Hague.

  • French, American and European officials condemned a reported civilian massacre in Mali, carried out by Malian soldiers and Russian mercenaries.

  • The U.S. economy is booming, but economists are worried about a recession.

What Else Is Happening

  • Elon Musk will join Twitter’s board of directors after becoming the company’s largest shareholder.

  • March Madness is over: Kansas won its fourth men’s N.C.A.A. basketball championship with a 72-69 comeback victory over North Carolina.

A Morning Read

Starling murmurations can consist of hundreds of thousands of birds.Credit…Soeren Solkaer

Each spring and autumn, swirling flocks of starlings fill the skies in southern Denmark, an event known locally as “sort sol,” or “black sun.” The photographer Søren Solkær captured the transfixing patterns.

Who Is Running for President of France?

Card 1 of 6

The campaign begins. French citizens will go to the polls in April to begin electing a president. Here is a look at the candidates:

The incumbent. President Emmanuel Macron, an inveterate political gambler who in 2017 became the nation’s youngest elected leader, announced his re-election bid just a day before the deadline, against the background of the crisis in Ukraine.

A center-right candidate. Valérie Pécresse, the current leader of the Paris region, recently won the nomination of the Republicans by adopting a vocabulary with racial and colonial undertones. She now faces the difficult task of enlarging her support base.

A Trump-style provocateur. Éric Zemmour, a longtime conservative journalist and a right-wing television star, says he is running to “save” a country that he says is being assailed by Islam, immigration and identity politics.

The far-right veteran. Marine Le Pen, who has long used fiery rhetoric to fight her way to power in France, is seeking to sanitize her image. She finished third in 2012 and was defeated by Mr. Macron in the 2017 runoff.

A fiery French leftist. For months, left-wing candidates barely made a dent with voters. Then Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a skilled orator and the leader of the far-left France Unbowed movement, started surging in voter surveys. He now sits comfortably in third place.


A right way to struggle?

Several common educational strategies lean into the idea that, in the classroom, challenge is something to embrace.

That may seem misguided when students are reeling from two years of pandemic learning and isolation from their peers. But manyeducators and scientists say that, as students now look to rebuild academic confidence, it is crucial for parents and teachers to step back when learning becomes difficult and be explicit that the challenge offers rewards.

Often, educators offer students strategies to reframe difficult tasks and get comfortable with a little discomfort. “The answer isn’t taking away challenge, it’s giving more tools to deal with challenge,” a Stanford psychology professor said.

Some educators talk about a “learning pit,” a visual metaphor conceived by a teacher in a former mining town in Northern England for an imaginary place where students go when the material becomes challenging. A student can say to the teacher, “I am in the pit with this” — an easier thing for a child to admit than “I don’t understand.” And a teacher can prepare students to “go into the pit,” as if on a spelunking adventure.


What to Cook

Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times

This 35-minute recipe for sabut masoor dal makes for a comforting meal in about half the time that traditional dal requires.

What to Read

In School Days,” a new novel, decades-old allegations of sexual harassment rock an elite New England boarding school.

What to Watch

“Tokyo Vice,” a cross-cultural crime thriller premiering Thursday on HBO Max, tells the shadowy history of a time when the yakuza ruled the city’s red-light districts and back alleys.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Letter after “eff” (three letters).

Here’s today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

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

P.S. Farnaz Fassihi will be expanding her role as our next U.N. bureau chief while also helping The Times cover Iran.

The latest episode of “The Daily” covers how the war in Ukraine is creating a global food crisis.

You can reach Amelia and the team at [email protected].

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