Your Wednesday Briefing

Patrons at a bar in Moscow on Tuesday as President Vladimir V. Putin spoke during a televised meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary.Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Putin blames the U.S. for the crisis in Ukraine

Speaking at a news conference in Moscow yesterday, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said that the U.S. was trying to pull Russia into an armed conflict over Ukraine that Russia did not want. He signaled he was prepared to engage in more diplomacy, even as he insisted that NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe threatened world peace.

“Their most important task is to contain Russia’s development,” he said of the U.S. “Ukraine is just an instrument of achieving this goal. It can be done in different ways, such as pulling us into some armed conflict and then forcing their allies in Europe to enact those harsh sanctions against us that are being discussed today in the United States.”

Russia has amassed 100,000 troops at Ukraine’s borders, and Putin has threatened to take unspecified action if his demands are not met. They include a promise from NATO that Ukraine will never join the alliance. U.S. and European officials have dismissed such demands.

Diplomacy attempts: Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi, warned Putin by phone on Tuesday of “serious consequences.” Splitting sharply from his NATO allies, Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, said that Russian security demands were reasonable.

Cybersecurity: The White House dispatched its top cybersecurity official to NATO in what it described as a mission to prepare allies to deter, and perhaps disrupt, Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine.

Related: NATO countries have trained and helped equip the Ukrainian Army. But it still bears little resemblance to the kind of sophisticated military that distinguishes NATO members.

A warehouse under construction in Pennsylvania last May. The supply chain crunch has made storage space a premium.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Supply chain troubles drag on

With the havoc at ports showing no signs of abating, the world is absorbing a troubling realization: Time alone will not solve the Great Supply Chain Disruption. “It’s unlikely to happen in 2022,” said Phil Levy, chief economist at Flexport, a freight forwarding company in San Francisco. “My crystal ball gets murky further out.”

Doing so will require investment, technology and a refashioning of the incentives at play across global business. It will take more ships, additional warehouses and an influx of truck drivers, none of which can be conjured quickly or cheaply.

The International Monetary Fund last week cited supply chain woes among other factors as it downgraded its forecast for global growth for 2022 to 4.4 percent from 4.9 percent. Mayhem at factories, ports and shipping yards, combined with the market dominance of major companies, is a key driver for rising prices.

Impact: Cheap and reliable shipping may no longer be taken as a given, forcing manufacturers to move production closer to customers. The crunch has companies across various industries warning of delays or effects to profits.

The latest hoarding trend: In many parts of the U.S., there is little to no commercial warehouse space available to stockpile goods as a hedge against supply chain problems. Some firms are signing deals for new space long before construction even begins.

Customers at the fish market in in Copenhagen on Tuesday.Credit…Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix Foto, via Associated Press

Denmark and Norway lift Covid restrictions

Despite a recent spike in coronavirus cases because of the Omicron variant, Denmark and Norway lifted most of their remaining Covid restrictions yesterday. The two countries are among the first European nations to abandon pandemic restrictions in favor of treating the virus as endemic.

Denmark has ended its mask mandates. Nightclubs will reopen, and businesses and venues may choose whether to require patrons to have health passes showing proof of vaccination or recent recovery from Covid. The Danish government has said it no longer considers Covid a “socially critical disease” — a designation that allows officials to enforce business closures and mask mandates.

In Norway, working from home will no longer be required, and the cap of 10 visitors in private homes is ending, according to the prime minister. Fully vaccinated travelers to the country will also no longer be required to take a Covid-19 test before entering.

Quotable: “Even if many more people are becoming infected, there are fewer who are hospitalized,” said Jonas Gahr Stoere, the Norwegian prime minister. “We’re well protected by vaccines.”

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Omicron has been deadlier in the U.S. than in other wealthy countries, in part because of low vaccine rates among older people.

  • Pfizer asked the F.D.A. to allow a two-dose coronavirus vaccine for children under 5, even as research continues on whether three doses would work better for the age group.


Around the World

Credit…Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
  • China is expanding its ties to the Middle East, where some states are looking to Beijing to invest in their infrastructure and cooperate on technology and security as the U.S. pulls back from the region.

  • Three Israeli military commanders have been reprimanded and reassigned after an investigation into the death of a 78-year-old Palestinian man while in Israeli custody.

  • The rampaging feral pigs of the San Francisco Bay Area are tearing up lawns, threatening the drinking water and disturbing vineyards’ harvests.

  • Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 people in gun and bomb attacks in 2011, was denied parole by a Norwegian court.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Mary Turner for The New York Times
  • A report from Britain’s police watchdog said the London force needed to address “disgraceful” behavior after an investigation found widespread bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment.

  • The Dutch publisher of “The Betrayal of Anne Frank,” a new book scholars have criticized for inconclusive findings, apologized and said it would delay printing more copies.

  • Hundreds of Native American tribes reached a tentative $590 million opioid settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three drug distributors.

  • The U.S. national debt topped $30 trillion as pandemic spending fueled government borrowing.

What Else Is Happening

  • The Dutch speedskating team is so dominant that qualifying for the Olympics can be the hardest part.

  • Groundhogs may be popular, but they are often misunderstood, according to scientific research. (They do not, however, make good meteorologists.)

  • “Jeuje,” “zhoosh” or “zhuzh”? Commonly used to describe adding an extra something to almost anything, the slang term has a centuries-long history.

A Morning Read

Credit…Daniel Hug

The German climber Jost Kobusch is trying to be the first person to scale Mount Everest in winter alone without supplemental oxygen.

“You have to picture this: There’s only one tent in the base camp,” he said, in a call from Nepal. It’s his, of course.


Credit…Susan Helbig

A literary Crismis adventure

Dillon Helbig, an 8-year-old boy from Boise, Idaho, spent four days of his holiday break writing 81 pages of a book he wanted everyone to read. But, without a book deal, he had to find another way to get his opus to an audience — by slipping the only copy of his book, “The Adventures of Dillon Helbig’s Crismis,” onto a shelf of his local library.

Over the past month, the book, a richly illustrated tale about how Dillon gets transported back in time after a star atop his Christmas tree explodes, has become so popular that, at one point, 56 people were on the waiting list to check it out. (The author is credited as “Dillon His Self.”)

Publishers have finally come around, and the librarians are planning to make extra copies of the book, which boasts idiosyncratic grammar, spelling and syntax: For example, in “Chaptr 1,” Dillon writes, “ONe Day in wintr it wus Crismis!”

Dillon plans to retire from writing at the age of 40. Up next, however, he has exciting plans for a sequel: “My next book,’’ he said, “is going to be called ‘The Jacket-Eating Closet,’ based on actual events.”


What to Cook

Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times

This one-pot shakshuka may be at the apex of eggs-for-dinner.

What to Watch

Jennifer Lopez is betting on “Marry Me,” a rom-com that sounds a lot like her personal life: A superstar tries to negotiate a love life amid the trappings of uber-fame.

What to Read

“The Nineties” rewinds to an age where the internet as we know it wasn’t quite there yet.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Genesis 1 guy (four letters).

And here is the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Natasha

P.S. Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Christina Goldbaum will lead The Times’s Kabul bureau, continuing our Afghanistan coverage.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about inflation in the U.S.

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

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