Your Wednesday briefing: a convoy is approaching Kiev
Hello. We cover a Russian convoy near Kiev, President Biden’s first State of the Union address and the fight against multiculturalism in South Korea.
Russian convoy approaches Kiev
On day 6 of the invasion, Russian rockets hit major cities in Ukraine as a 40-mile convoy of Russian armed forces sat near the capital, Kyiv. Experts fear the convoy signals a shift to a new, more brutal strategy. Here are live updates and maps of the invasion.
The strikes are getting 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 city, killing at least seven people. A projectile also hit Kiev’s main radio and television tower, and Russia threatened military installations there.
The war is dividing families and a refugee crisis is looming: more than 660,000 people have already fled Ukraine. Africans in the country said authorities hampered their escape while allowing Ukrainians to pass quickly. Ukraine does not allow most men to leave, in case they are called upon to fight.
Ukraine: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of war crimes for targeting civilians. The UN said at least 136 civilians, including 13 children, were killed in the first five days of the invasion and requested $1.7 billion for the country’s emergency needs.
A glimpse of the State of the Union
President Biden will deliver his first State of the Union address tonight just after 9 p.m. EST; 10 a.m. in Hong Kong. Here’s how to watch, and you can follow our live updates here.
The economy will be a priority. Biden is expected to highlight rising wages and plentiful jobs after the pandemic collapses. But his presidency risks falling victim to inflation, which has limited his ability to advance much of his social spending agenda.
And the war in Europe will undoubtedly eclipse his speech. Biden has enjoyed bipartisan support as he imposes economic sanctions on Russia and sends US troops to NATO allies near Ukraine, and his speech could end the paralysis of Congress on the question. But he will still have to explain to Americans why the war matters to them, while preparing them for the hardships that will result, like even higher gas prices.
Pandemic: The White House has been working on a detailed strategy to move the nation into a “new normal,” but Biden is unlikely to outline the plan in his speech.
To analyse: The state of the union is sour. In a recent poll, 70% of Americans polled said the nation was heading in the wrong direction.
The fight for diversity in South Korea
When around 150 Muslims began building a mosque last year in Daegu, a conservative city in South Korea’s southeast, residents gathered to protest the ‘terrorist den’, which they say , would turn their neighborhood into “a crime-infested slum”.
The dispute has become a flashpoint, part of a larger reckoning in South Korea over immigration and multiculturalism. Although the country has been successful in exporting its culture overseas, South Koreans have directed much of their racial anger at Muslims — and immigrants more broadly — at home. Soaring property prices, a lack of social mobility and a widening income gap have contributed to tensions.
Context: 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”.
To analyse: South Korea has turned to immigration to mitigate a deepening demographic crisis. Some rural men started to marry foreign women, but there was backlash when the government introduced policies to support “multicultural families”.
THE LAST NEWS
here is live updates and the latest cards of the pandemic.
Queen Elizabeth II, 95, returned to duty nine days after testing positive.
A new study has found that several common rapid antigen tests work well for Omicron.
Scientists have found a new variant in deer, along with signs of possible deer-to-human transmission, but there is no evidence that the variant poses a high risk to humans.
New data shows that the Pfizer vaccine is much less effective in children ages 5 to 11, providing protection against hospitalization but almost none against infection.
What else is going on
A morning reading
A short video of a chained woman has gone viral in China. It has become a symbol of the injustice and incompetence of the authorities in the fight against human trafficking, writes my colleague Li Yuan in The New New World column, and one of the greatest credibility challenges of the government for years.
The coronavirus pandemic: essential things to know
The game season is coming early
There have been an unusual number of big-budget video games released in the past couple of months, including a Pokémon game, robot-dinosaur adventure Horizon Forbidden West, and Elden Ring, a fantasy epic co-written by the creator of ” Game of Thrones” George RR Martin.
Normally, the busiest time for game releases is the holiday season. But several factors came together to make it a busy 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 then delayed their games, resulting in a pile-up in early 2022.
Another factor, as Nicole Carpenter at Polygon explains, is that publishers are discovering that people will buy hit games outside of the holiday season. Horizon Zero Dawn, for example, was released in February 2017 and sold well, giving 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 best video game ever made”.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook
These soy glazed salmon rolls are rich and crispy.
What to read
‘Run and Hide’, Pankaj Mishra’s latest book, is an account of societal change in ‘New India’.
Glenn Martens, the creative director of Diesel and cult French brand Y/Project, is trying to balance his reputation as a niche conceptualist with his growing role as an industry Olympian.
Now it’s time to play
Play today’s mini crossword, and a clue: Student (five letters).
Here is today’s Wordle. (If you’re worried about your stat streak, play in whatever browser you’re using.)
And here is the spelling bee.
You can find all of our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. – Amelie
PS We are sad to announce that Michele McNally, former Times Photography Director, died last month aged 66. Dean Baquet, our editor, called her “a transformational figure in photojournalism.”
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Ukrainian citizens.
German Lopez wrote Arts and Ideas. You can reach Amelia and the team at [email protected].