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Your Wednesday Briefing: A Convoy Nears Kyiv

todayMarch 1, 2022

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Good morning. We’re covering a Russian convoy near Kyiv, President Biden’s first State of the Union address and fights over multiculturalism in South Korea.

On Day 6 of the invasion, Russian rockets struck major cities in Ukraine as a 40-mile-long convoy of Russian armed forces sat near Kyiv, the capital. Experts fear the convoy signals a shift to a new, more brutal strategy. Here are live updates and maps of the invasion.

Strikes are growing bolder as Russia appears to be targeting civilian areas with heavier weapons. An apparent rocket strike hit an administrative building in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, killing at least seven people. A projectile also hit the main radio and television tower in Kyiv, and Russia threatened military facilities there.

The war is dividing families, and a refugee crisis looms: More than 660,000 people have already fled Ukraine. Africans in the country said the authorities hindered their flight while allowing Ukrainians through quickly. Ukraine is not allowing most men to leave, in case they are called to fight.

Ukraine: President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine accused Russia of war crimes for targeting civilians. The U.N. said that at least 136 civilians, including 13 children, were killed in the first five days of the invasion and asked for $1.7 billion for the country’s emergency needs.

President Biden will deliver his first State of the Union address tonight just after 9 p.m. Eastern; 10 a.m. in Hong Kong. Here’s how to watch, and you can follow our live updates here.

The economy will be a primary focus. Biden is expected to highlight rising wages and plentiful jobs after pandemic slumps. But his presidency risks falling victim to inflation, which has limited his ability to move ahead with much of his social spending agenda.

And the war in Europe will undoubtedly overshadow his speech. Biden has had bipartisan support as he imposes economic sanctions on Russia and sends American troops to NATO allies near Ukraine, and his speech could end Congress’s paralysis on the issue. But he still will have to explain to Americans why the war matters to them, while preparing them for resulting hardships like even higher gasoline prices.

Pandemic: The White House has been working on a detailed strategy to transition the nation to a “new normal,” but Biden is unlikely to lay out the plan in his speech.

Analysis: The state of the union is sour. In a recent poll, fully 70 percent of Americans surveyed said the nation was heading in the wrong direction.

When about 150 Muslims started building a mosque last year in Daegu, a conservative city in southeastern South Korea, residents gathered to protest the “den of terrorists,” which they said would turn their neighborhood into “​a crime-infested ​slum.”

The dispute has become a flash point, part of a larger reckoning in South Korea over immigration and multiculturalism. Although the country has successfully exported its culture abroad, South Koreans have directed much of their racial ire at Muslims — and immigrants more broadly — at home. Runaway housing prices, a lack of social mobility and a widening income gap have contributed to the tensions.

Background: Many Koreans explain their attitude by citing history: Their nation has maintained its territory and identity through centuries of invasions and occupations. Those who oppose immigration fear threats to South Korea’s “pure blood” and “ethnic homogeneity.”

Analysis: South Korea turned to immigration to alleviate a worsening demographic crisis. Some rural men started to marry foreign women, but there was backlash when the government introduced policies to support “multicultural families.”

U.S. News


Here are live updates and the latest maps of the pandemic.

  • Queen Elizabeth II, 95, resumed her duties nine days after testing positive.

  • A new study found that several common rapid antigen tests work well for Omicron.

  • Scientists found a new variant in deer, and also signs of possible deer-to-person transmission, but there is no evidence that the variant poses an elevated risk to people.

  • New data shows that the Pfizer shot is far less effective in children 5 to 11, offering protection against hospitalization but almost none against infection.

What Else Is Happening

A Morning Read

A short video of a chained woman has gone viral in China. She has become a symbol of injustice and the authorities’ incompetence in fighting human trafficking, my colleague Li Yuan writes in The New New World column, and one of the government’s biggest credibility challenges in years.

There were an unusual number of big-budget video games released over the past two months, including a Pokémon game, the robo-dinosaur adventure Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring, a fantasy epic co-written by the “Game of Thrones” creator George R.R. Martin.

Normally, the busiest time for game releases is the holiday season. But several factors came together to make this a packed start to the year.

One of them is Covid. When game studios around the world were forced to work from home, it took months to adjust. Many developers subsequently delayed their games, resulting in an early 2022 pileup.

Another factor, as Nicole Carpenter explains at Polygon, is that publishers are discovering that people will buy blockbuster games outside the holiday season. Horizon Zero Dawn, for instance, came out in February 2017 and sold well, which gave Sony confidence that its sequel, Forbidden West, could succeed in February five years later. — German Lopez, a Morning writer

For more: A review in The Guardian calls Elden Ring “the finest video game yet made.”

What to Cook

These soy-glazed salmon hand rolls are rich and crunchy.

What to read

Run and Hide,” the latest book by Pankaj Mishra, is a tale of the societal change of “New India.”


Glenn Martens, the creative director of Diesel and the cult French brand Y/Project, is trying to balance his reputation as a niche conceptualist and his growing role as industry Olympian.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Student (five letters).

Here’s today’s Wordle. (If you’re worried about your stats streak, play in the browser you’ve been using.)

And here is the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. We are sad to announce that Michele McNally, a former director of photography at The Times, died last month at 66. Dean Baquet, our executive editor, called her “a transformational figure in photojournalism.”

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about citizens in Ukraine.

German Lopez wrote the Arts and Ideas. You can reach Amelia and the team at

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40-Mile Long Russian Convoy Outside Kyiv Raises Alarm

It has been a menacing presence in the war in Ukraine: Satellite images have shown a military convoy stretching 40 miles long on a roadway north of Kyiv, with a number of homes and buildings seen burning nearby. Experts fear the convoy, which includes supply and armored attack vehicles, could be used to encircle and cut off the capital or to launch a full-on assault. The front end of the […]

todayMarch 1, 2022