Your Wednesday Briefing


After two days of diplomacy about the crisis in Ukraine, the leaders of France, Germany and Poland said their overriding goal was the preservation of peace in Europe, but they warned Russia of dire consequences “politically, economically and surely strategically,” according to Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, if the country launched further incursions into Ukraine.

It was one of the strongest statements yet on the crisis from Scholz. Germany has faced criticism for what has been perceived as a weak response to the massive Russian troop buildup at the Ukrainian border. But a recent meeting with President Biden appeared to have stiffened the resolve of the chancellor, who took office just two months ago.

A spokesman for the Kremlin rejected reports that Emmanuel Macron, the French president, and Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia, had reached any agreement in a recent meeting to de-escalate the crisis over Russia’s military buildup at Ukraine’s border, suggesting that it was the U.S., not France, that had standing to negotiate such a deal.

Quotable: Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, called the situation “the most difficult since 1989.” Europe, he added, “has not seen these kinds of troop movements since World War II.”

News analysis: With few compromises so far, the standoff could turn into a drawn-out and dangerous diplomatic slog. The Ukraine crisis is here to stay, our Moscow bureau chief writes.


Four years after a mistake-laden short program cost him a chance at gold, the American figure skater Nathan Chen is halfway to gold in Beijing. He set a world record with his high score. The gold medal will be decided tomorrow after the free skate.

Eileen Gu, the 18-year-old freestyle ski star who was born and raised in California and competes for her mother’s home country of China, won gold in big air with a trick she hadn’t tried in competition. Here’s how she did it.

Protesters in Canada have occupied Ottawa, the capital, for 12 days. The demonstrations have rippled far beyond its borders, with a new road blockade temporarily cutting off the country’s busiest link to the U.S. and copycat convoys spreading to New Zealand and Australia. Talks of a similar protest are in the works in the U.S.

The demonstrations, which began as loosely organized groups of truck drivers and protesters opposed to the mandatory vaccination of truckers crossing the border, have also captured the imagination of far right and anti-vaccine groups around the world. The protests have also tapped into wider fatigue with pandemic restriction.

In Canada, most of the protesters and the organizers are clearly on the fringe, with some even wearing Nazi symbols and desecrating public monuments, though others described themselves as ordinary Canadians driven to distraction. Some members of the convoy in Australia have claimed to be “sovereign citizens” who are not subject to any laws.

Frustrations: Polls in the U.S. suggest the desire to return to normalcy has approached or even overtaken alarm about the coronavirus itself.

Across Taiwan, Beethoven’s well-known classical melody, “Für Elise,” is a Pavlovian call to action: Bring down your garbage and catch up on neighborhood gossip.

It’s part of a decades-old waste management policy in Taiwan under which “trash is not allowed to touch the ground.” People must hand-deliver their trash to garbage trucks, as opposed to wheeling out their bins for a later pickup or tossing the garbage into a dumpster.

Greta Ferusic is thought to be the only person to have survived both internment at Auschwitz and the 1990s siege of Sarajevo. She died at 97.

It’s Oscars season. Here are the highlights from the nominations announcement yesterday, ahead of the ceremony in late March.

Who led the pack? The Netflix western “The Power of the Dog” secured 12 nominations, while the sci-fi epic “Dune” earned 10. Steven Spielberg’s take on “West Side Story” and the historical drama “Belfast” — about the Troubles in Northern Ireland — each scored seven nominations.

History-makers: Troy Kotsur became the first deaf actor to get a nomination for the movie “CODA,” which stands for Child of Deaf Adults. Beyoncé — already the female artist with the most Grammys — picked up her first Oscar nomination for best original song for “Be Alive,” from “King Richard.”

Snubs: The drama “Passing” — about old friends navigating the color line in 1920s New York — didn’t get any nominations, and the Academy ignored Lady Gaga’s performance in “House of Gucci.” Denis Villeneuve, the force behind “Dune,” was also overlooked for directing.

If you watch one movie: Make it Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s quiet masterpiece, “Drive My Car,” which nabbed four nominations, including best picture and director. Yes, it’s nearly three hours long, but it’s a stunning meditation on grief and love.

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