Your Thursday Briefing: Key Meetings for Biden and Putin
In this photograph, provided by Russian state media, President Vladimir Putin meets with China’s top foreign policy official at the Kremlin.Credit…Anton Novoderezhkin/Sputnik, via Reuters
Biden and Putin build up alliances
President Biden met with leaders from NATO’s eastern flank in Warsaw, while President Vladimir Putin welcomed China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, in Moscow. As Russia’s war in Ukraine appears set to drag on, both are trying to shore up allegiances.
Biden reminded Eastern European leaders that they know “what’s at stake in this conflict, not just for Ukraine, but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world.” He vowed to defend America’s NATO allies, which are most at risk from Russia’s aggression.
In his talks with Wang, Putin noted that President Xi Jinping of China was expected to visit Russia, but indicated that the meeting had yet to be confirmed. The Kremlin is working to keep China in Russia’s corner amid a flurry of diplomacy across Europe by Beijing. The threat of U.S. sanctions looms if China were to increase its economic support for Russia.
A pro-war rally: Putin told a crowd of tens of thousands of people gathered at a Moscow stadium that “there is a battle underway on our historical borders, for our people.” It was probably the most public celebration of war that Russia has mounted since the invasion.
The battleground: A barrage of Russian missiles struck Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, and nearly a dozen explosions were reported overnight in Russian-held territory, including in Mariupol, which suggests that Ukraine has increased attacks on Russian positions deep behind the front lines.
10 Palestinians killed in Israeli raid
Palestinian officials said at least 10 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 others wounded in an hourslong gun battle between Israeli security forces and armed Palestinian groups in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The region is bracing for more unrest.
Israel’s military said that the rare daytime firefight occurred during an operation to arrest Palestinian gunmen in Nablus. Six of the dead were fighters, several armed Palestinian groups said. But four had no known affiliation with any armed faction. Videos circulating on social media seemed to show that at least two people were shot with their backs to gunfire.
Palestinian officials say this has been the deadliest start to a year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2000, prompting comparisons with the Palestinian insurgency known as the second intifada. Nearly 60 Palestinians have been killed so far.
The State of the War
- Biden’s Kyiv Visit: President Biden traveled covertly to the besieged Ukrainian capital, hoping to demonstrate American resolve and boost shellshocked Ukrainians. But the trip was also the first of several direct challenges to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
- Contrasting Narratives: In sharply opposed speeches, Mr. Biden said Mr. Putin bore sole responsibility for the war, while Mr. Putin said Russia had invaded in self-defense. But they agreed the war would not end soon.
- Nuclear Treaty: Mr. Putin announced that Russia would suspend its participation in the New START nuclear arms control treaty — the last major such agreement remaining with the United States.
- In the North: A different sort of war game is playing out in northern Ukraine, where Russian shelling is tying up thousands of Ukrainian troops that might otherwise defend against attacks farther south.
A heavy toll: Palestinians say there’s an increased readiness among Israeli soldiers to shoot to kill. Israelis attribute the high death toll to a proliferation of guns and an increased readiness among Palestinians to fire instead of surrendering. Analysts said the timing of the raids — during the day instead of during the night, when the army usually conducts its operations — was a factor. During the day, residents are more likely to get caught in the crossfire or join the clashes.
South Korea’s stalled same-sex equality bill
L.G.B.T.Q. people in South Korea got a welcome victory this week when a court ordered the national health insurance service to provide spousal coverage to same-sex couples. But a broader bill that aims to prevent discrimination against sexual minorities is being blocked in the National Assembly.
The Anti-Discrimination Act, which was first introduced decades ago, has faced tough opposition from a powerful Christian conservative lobby, despite the growing social acceptance of sexual minorities in South Korea. Opponents of the bill say their ranks are growing. They have prayed in public against the bill, flooded politicians’ phones with texts and persuaded school boards to remove books with transgender characters from libraries.
Public support: A recent Gallup poll found that about 57 percent of adults in South Korea were in favor of the broader bill. Supporters see the failure to pass it as an example of how laws are out of step with the times.
Region: Legislation recognizing same-sex equality has found support in other Asian countries. In Thailand, a law protecting queer rights took effect in 2015. In Taiwan, discrimination against sexual minorities has been illegal for about 15 years.
THE LATEST NEWS
A Taiwanese computer chip giant’s $40 billion investment in an Arizona factory has stoked apprehension among employees.
The disappearance of Bao Fan, a deal maker in China’s tech industry, threatens to upend Beijing’s promise to support private enterprise, our columnist Li Yuan writes.
A U.S. judge rejected a bid by families of Sept. 11 victims to seize $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan funds as compensation for their losses.
Around the World
A British court upheld a ruling that stripped a woman of her citizenship after she left the country to join ISIS in Syria as a teenager.
The U.S. government could run out of cash by summer if it doesn’t raise the debt limit, according to a new estimate.
Nearly all of the U.S. is experiencing ice, snow or unseasonably warm temperatures this week. Air travel has been disrupted.
An alligator killed an 85-year-old woman on a walk with her dog in Florida.
New research shows that PFAS compounds, linked to cancer, are turning up in wild animal species around the world.
In people with advanced H.I.V., mpox has a death rate of about 15 percent, researchers reported.
Scientists say a drought in Argentina last year was not directly caused by climate change, but global warming was a factor in the extreme heat that made it worse.
A Morning Read
Raghavan Iyer has by some estimations taught more Americans how to cook Indian food than anyone else. For five years, he has been living with cancer. Now, in his final days, Iyer is building a database of comfort-food recipes, organized by cuisine and medical condition, for other terminally ill patients.
He’s also getting ready for the release of his final book, an exploration of curry powder, which comes out next week.
ARTS AND IDEAS
How a dance hit came together
“Naatu Naatu,” from the Indian blockbuster “RRR,” is nominated for the Academy Award for best original song, a first for an Indian production.
Set in 1920s colonial India, the film features “Naatu Naatu” in a scene where two friends square off against a British bully who wants to eject them from a lawn party. The director, S.S. Rajamouli, conceived the musical number as a kind of fight sequence, with fiery steps instead of punches. (You can watch it here.)
The giddy choreography and propulsive rhythm draw from local traditions. The song’s composer used Indian skin drums called duffs, whose sound he compared to the traditional beats of folk songs celebrated in villages. In Telugu, the language of the film, “naatu” means “raw and rustic.”
For more: Read our review of “RRR.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
These vegan banana cookies are a good breakfast treat.
What to Read
“Sink,” a memoir, recounts a Black boyhood in Philadelphia.
What to Listen to
SZA’s “SOS” is now the longest-running No. 1 album by a woman since Adele’s “25” seven years ago.
Where to Go
Ski in Sälen, a snowy Swedish fairy tale.
Now Time to Play
Play the Mini Crossword, and here’s a clue: Cried (four letters).
Here are the 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. A.O. Scott, The Times’s longtime film critic, will move to the Book Review to write essays and reviews that grapple with literature, ideas and intellectual life.
“The Daily” is about U.S. moves to legalize psychedelics as a medical treatment.
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