Your Tuesday Briefing

Russian forces hit residential neighborhoods of the southern city of Mykolaiv yesterday.Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

An intensifying humanitarian crisis in Ukraine

Increasingly indiscriminate Russian shelling that has trapped and traumatized Ukrainian civilians is magnifying fears of a humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands have been left without food, water, power or heat in besieged cities of southern Ukraine and elsewhere. Follow the latest updates here.

Hopes for even brief cease-fires flared and then just as quickly sputtered. The Russian invasion, the biggest conflict to engulf Europe since World War II, has displaced at least 1.7 million Ukrainians, half of them children, according to the U.N. Many are trapped in their own cities.

Unable to make major military gains, Russian forces are carrying out a campaign of indiscriminate bombing that is terrorizing the residents of Ukrainian cities and villages. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said he expected more heavy shelling of Ukrainian cities in the coming days.

Here’s an updated map showing the advancement of Russian troops.

Evacuations: The Kremlin has offered to evacuate Ukrainian civilians to Russia — that is, to the invader — or to its ally Belarus. Ukrainian leaders denounced the proposal as propaganda, and said it was meant to distract attention from the Russian shelling of areas where civilians are trying to flee.

Sanctions: American lawmakers advanced a bipartisan measure yesterday to suspend normal trade relations with Moscow and ban U.S. purchases of Russian oil. Global oil prices rose to above $119 a barrel, and the stock market had its worst day since October 2020.

In other news from the war:

  • Ukrainian forces said they had repelled a Russian attack on the southern city of Mykolaiv and shot down two Russian airplanes over the capital of Kyiv and in a nearby area.

  • The U.S. has walked to the edge of direct conflict with Russia, providing, with NATO, 17,000 antitank weapons to Ukraine and operating clandestine “cybermission teams.”

  • As in the early 1900s, Jews are again escaping violence in southeast Europe. Many Israelis have joined the relief effort.

Fighting a fire in the Brazilian Amazon near Rio Pardo in 2019.Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

A daunting prospect for the Amazon

The Amazon is losing its ability to recover from disturbances like droughts, scientists reported in a new study, adding to concerns that the rainforest is approaching a critical threshold beyond which much of it will be replaced by grassland, with vast consequences for global climate change.

Climate change, together with widespread deforestation and burning for agriculture and ranching, has taken a toll on the Amazon, making it warmer and drier. More than three-quarters of the untouched rainforest lost resiliency since 2000, the study found, and the loss was greatest in areas that were drier or closer to human activities like logging.

About 17 percent of the Amazon has been deforested over the past half-century. Losing the rainforest could add up to 90 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, the equivalent of several years’ worth of global emissions.

Quotable: We have to get to zero deforestation, zero forest degradation,” Carlos Nobre, a senior scientist at the National Institute of Amazonian Research, said. “We still have a chance to save the forest.”

In other climate news: The Biden administration proposed strict limits on emissions from buses, delivery vans and heavy trucks, the first time in 21 years that standards have been tightened for the biggest polluters on the road.

A line for Covid testing in Seoul today.Credit…Yonhap/EPA, via Shutterstock

Known Covid deaths hit 6 million

The number of known Covid-19 deaths around the world surpassed six million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Public health experts agree that this grim number is a vast undercount and that the true devastation will never be precisely known.

Outbreaks are still intensifying in Hong Kong, South Korea and New Zealand, but the rates of death are declining in many places as the Omicron variant recedes. The world is averaging more than 7,000 new confirmed deaths a day, down from almost 11,000 a day in early February and the known pandemic peak of more than 14,000 a day in January 2021.

Despite its ample vaccine supply, the U.S. has recorded more than 950,000 deaths, the highest known total of any nation, and has failed to inoculate as much of its population as other wealthy nations. An average of about 1,500 Americans are still dying each day, roughly a year after vaccines became readily available.

Disparities: Vaccination rates continue to lag in low-income countries, where only 14 percent of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine. In high- and upper-middle-income countries, 79 percent of the population has received at least one dose.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other virus news:

  • China’s biggest outbreak since the start of the pandemic is straining its “zero Covid” policy.

  • Covid-19 may cause greater loss of gray matter and tissue damage in the brain than naturally occurs in people who have not been infected with the coronavirus, a large new study found.


Around the World

Credit…Charlotte de la Fuente for The New York Times
  • Dozens of Syrian asylum seekers are stuck in limbo after the Danish authorities revoked their residency permits.

  • Bills to restrict abortion are advancing in several Republican-led states, offering a preview of a post-Roe America.

  • The Biden administration repatriated to Saudi Arabia a Guantánamo Bay prisoner who was tortured so badly that a judge ruled him ineligible for trial.

What Else Is Happening

  • Tuatara — small, oddball reptiles native to New Zealand that are often called living fossils — are little changed from their ancestors 190 million years ago, according to a new study.

  • Carmakers are racing to control next-generation battery technology.

  • A social media diet of perfect bodies is spurring some teenage boys to develop muscle dysmorphia, sometimes known as “Bigorexia.”

A Morning Read

Celebrate International Women’s Day with these interviews featuring female leaders around Europe, including the Russian journalist Zoya Svetova, who comes from a long line of dissidents, above; Sister Nathalie Becquart, who will play a prominent role at the Synod of Bishops next year; and Nadia Calviño, an economist and Spain’s first deputy prime minister.


Where fashion hasn’t dared to go before

At Paris Fashion Week, a Balenciaga collection originally meant as commentary on climate change morphed into a powerful response to the war in Ukraine, writes Vanessa Friedman, The Times’s chief fashion critic.

“In a cold, dark airplane hangar on the edge of Paris, as reports broke of more than 1.5 million refugees fleeing through Europe from Ukraine, Demna, the mononymic designer of Balenciaga who had fled Georgia as a 12-year-old during that country’s civil war, built an enormous snow globe and let loose a storm,” she writes.

People clutched faux trash bags seemingly filled with belongings as the music pounded. Overhead, lights flashed in the obscured sky. Outside the glass an audience watched, holding blue and yellow T-shirts the shades and almost the size of the Ukrainian flags that had been left on every seat, along with a note from the designer.

The war had, Demna wrote in the note, “triggered the pain of a past trauma I have carried in me since 1993, when the same thing happened in my country and I became a forever refugee. Forever, because that’s something that stays with you. The fear, the desperation, the realization that no one wants you.”


What to Cook

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

An unforgettable combination of flavors and textures make this silky tart one to savor.

What to Watch

In the thoughtful sci-fi movie “After Yang,” Colin Farrell plays a father who tries to repair the family’s caretaker-android.

Virtual Travel

A bird’s-eye view of fresh snow in Vermont.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Football field divisions (five letters).

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

You can find all our puzzles here.

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

P.S. Pamela Paul, editor of The Times Book Review, is becoming an Opinion columnist.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Ukrainian refugees.

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

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