Your Monday Briefing - The New York Times

Macron attempts mediation on Ukraine The standoff with Russia over Ukraine is at a critical point. The United States drew NATO attenti...


The standoff with Russia over Ukraine is at a critical point. The United States drew NATO attention and moved forces east, while Moscow prepared even more troops on the Ukrainian border. But under these tensions, diplomatic avenues are feverishly explored and the outlines of potential solutions, still amorphous, could emerge.

Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, is meeting with Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, today in Moscow. At the same time, President Biden will meet Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, in Washington. Macron has positioned himself at the center of diplomacy in Europe, giving him the opportunity to take on a broader leadership role.

For Macron, the risks are as great as the potential benefits. Solutions to the crisis seem devilishly elusive at the moment, even if Putin has appeared less directly threatening to Ukraine over the past week. With its huge concentration of troops on the Ukrainian border, Russia still threatens war, and its grievances against NATO continue to fester.

In Ukraine: Moscow is not yet ready to break into Ukraine, but parts of the Russian military seem to be in the final stages of preparation for military action, according to a Ukrainian military assessment. US officials have said a full-scale Russian invasion could kill up to 50,000 civilians and cause a refugee crisis across Europe.

The unpredictable weather conditions in Beijing are raising concerns about schedules, danger and fairness. With gusts of 15 miles per hour and more, the wind has already knocked out two official days of skiing. The downhill, the flagship event of alpine skiing, has been postponed from yesterday to today, between two rounds of the women’s giant slalom.

For the first time, the athletes of the Winter Olympics compete almost entirely on artificial snow. China’s Herculean investments in snowmaking are part of larger efforts to turn the barren mountains near Beijing into a permanent skiing and snowboarding hub, a project that could face challenges as the climate change disrupts rainfall and drought patterns.

Even then, the results of the best races are difficult to predict: the best skiers in the world always win at the Olympics. Years of preparation and training can mean little if conditions and circumstances do not cooperate. Nothing solidifies an athlete’s status as one of the greatest like an Olympic medal. But these medals can be won or lost in as little as two minutes.

Hospitals and clinics in Afghanistan are struggling to stay afloat amid a lack of funding and a vast outbreak of malnutrition and disease. According to one estimate, 90% of the country’s health clinics are soon to close.

Since the Taliban took over power last year, three-quarters of Afghanistan’s 40 million people have been plunged into acute povertywith 4.7 million Afghans at risk of severe malnutrition this year, according to the UN Last month, the organization launched its largest-ever appeal for a single country, asking donors to donate more than 5 billions of dollars to deal with the disaster.

Before the US-backed Afghan government disintegrated in August as the Taliban overran the country, the health system depended on international aid to survive. But much of that funding has been frozen to comply with Taliban sanctions.

Aid: Although there were infusions of aid, including $308 million in US-authorized relief, they were not enough to cover 1,200 health facilities and 11,000 health workers.

Europe: Educated Afghan refugees are welcome in the EU, but they struggle with their life in exile. And their poorer compatriots are often shunned.

A decade ago, psychologists proposed that a wide range of people would suffer from anxiety and grief in the face of climate change. At the time, the notion was considered speculative.

But this skepticism is fading. Eco-anxiety, a concept introduced by young activists, has entered common vocabulary. And professional organizations are now explore approaches to treating anxiety it is both existential and, many would say, rational.

Loosely based on a assignments 2019 by Russian military to suppress an insurrection in Mozambique, the Russian film “Graniteis the latest blockbuster aimed at telling the story of Russia in Africa. The film features Russian mercenary warriors rescuing beleaguered African villagers from jihadists.

As UN investigators blame Russian private military conduct war crimes in Africafilms like “Granite” depict Russia’s role as heroic.

Writing in the news site Carta de Moçambique, Mozambican journalist Marcelo Mosse began his review of the film with a single word: “Hahaha”. It was, he wrote, “a sort of docudrama promoting mercenaryism”. For Mosse and others, the film raises uncomfortable questions about Russia’s role in Africa.

This is not the first time that Russian filmmakers have turned to mercenaries in Africa for inspiration. Last year, the film “Tourist” represented the heroism of Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic with the same blood, blood and clichés. Russian media reported that the film’s production company has ties to Yevgeny Prigozhinan oligarch close to Vladimir Putin.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. -Natasha

PS Sign up for the latest Winter Olympics news with our olympic briefing.

The last episode of “The Dailyis about the “zero-Covid” Olympics.

Lynsey Chutel wrote Arts and Ideas Today. You can reach Natasha and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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