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Your Monday Briefing: Russia’s Attack on Mariupol

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Your Monday Briefing: Russia’s Attack on Mariupol

We cover Russia’s bombing of Mariupol and China’s new strategy to deal with the recent surge in coronavirus cases.

With Russia failing to seize major Ukrainian cities, losing ground around Kyiv and being beset by significant losses, there is an emerging consensus in the West that the war has reached a stalemate. However, fierce fighting by land, air and sea continued in Mariupol on Sunday as well.

Russian forces bombed the coastal city, including a drama school where 400 people were hiding, and according to city officials and witnesses, thousands of residents were forcibly deported to Russia against their will.

Satellite images of Mariupol have found evidence of widespread damage in residential areas. At least 391 buildings containing schools and health facilities were damaged or destroyed in one part of the city.

Diplomacy: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called for direct talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. But according to a senior Turkish official who was on a recent call between Putin and the Turkish president, Putin doesn’t think the timing is right.

Since the beginning of 2020, China has adopted a zero-tolerance approach to the prevention of the coronavirus. But now the country’s leader Xi Jinping is changing his tone in the hope of avoiding further economic losses.

In an effort to slow the growth of the country’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak since the initial spike in cases more than two years ago, Xi is still ordering a major lockdown. But he is also urging officials to take more liberal interventions, such as allowing the use of at-home testing kits and sending people to centralized isolation facilities instead of hospitals, even if they remain stricter than in most countries.

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In some ways, it is a necessity. While only two deaths have been reported in the latest wave, many of the more than 32,000 cases in recent weeks are of Omicron’s highly transmissible BA.2 subtype. If the trend continues, sending everyone to the hospital will quickly overwhelm the system, and the lockdown could wipe out the razor-thin profits of many factories or lead to layoffs of service workers.

In other pandemic developments:


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has trapped a significant portion of the world’s food and fertilizer, driving up prices and foreshadowing an increase in world hunger.

Wheat prices have gone up by 21 per cent, barley by 33 per cent and some fertilizers by 40 per cent since last month. With the pandemic looming and China’s worst wheat harvest in decades, officials are warning the situation could worsen. Earlier this month, the United Nations said an additional 7.6 million to 13.1 million people could go hungry due to the war’s impact on the global food market.

In the past five years, Russia and Ukraine accounted for nearly a third of the world’s exports of wheat and barley, 17 percent of its corn and 75 percent of its sunflower seed oil, an important cooking oil in some parts of the world. have exported. Of particular concern is the prospect of Ukraine failing to sow next year’s crop.

Global Impact: In February, US grocery prices were already up 8.6 percent from a year earlier, the biggest increase in 40 years. Farmers from Brazil to Texas are cutting fertilizers, jeopardizing crop size, as high energy prices have caused plants to cut production.

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Few things are as spectacular as gliding on snow through miles of pristine forest, with birds in the trees, the claw marks of wildlife etched in the snow, and a new discovery around every turn. This is now a reality in Ottawa, where skating trails are popping up in and around the city. But some worry that climate change is threatening the good times.

Here is a selection of literature and non-fiction that might help you better understand Ukraine, compiled by the authors and editors at The Times Book Review.

“Your Ad Can Go Here,” by Oksana Zabuzhko. Alexandra Alter writes, “short stories about Ukrainians facing personal and political inflection points, written by a well-known public intellectual, “heroic in the real and the supernatural”.

“Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine,” edited by Oksana Maximchuk and Max Rosokhinsky. The anthology, which focuses on the fighting in Crimea and the Donbass region, includes the works of several Ukrainian poets. “Some have fought on the front lines, while others have helped evacuate family members,” writes Alexandra.

“Absolute Zero” by Artem Cheikh. A memoir of a Ukrainian novelist who fought in the Donbass in 2015, the book “incorporates the perspectives of civilians and their fellow soldiers,” writes Joumana Khatib.

“The Gates of Europe” by Serhi Plokhi. This comprehensive overview of Ukraine, written by the director of Harvard’s Ukrainian Research Institute, goes back centuries to trace the country’s history under various empires and its fight for independence.

For more information, our colleagues put together two lists: one mostly non-fiction on the history of Ukraine and one of contemporary fiction and memoir.

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