Your Friday Briefing

Ukrainian military vehicles on the side of the road outside Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine, on Thursday.Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Russian forces push toward Kyiv

A day after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry said its forces had destroyed more than 70 military targets, including 11 airfields, a helicopter and four drones. Russian forces also captured the former nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, north of Kyiv, the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster. Explosions were reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv and elsewhere.

In a short video address, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said at least 137 Ukrainians had been killed so far. Russian saboteurs had entered Kyiv, the capital, he added. He said he feared that the country would not receive military assistance. President Biden has said that U.S. forces will not fight in Ukraine, but that additional troops will be deployed to Germany and NATO’s eastern flank to bolster defenses.

Thousands of Ukrainian civilians have fled the country’s cities, with buses and cars packed with family members, pets and personal belongings backed up for miles outside Kyiv. Anna, a resident of Chernihiv who was stuck in traffic, wiped away tears as she spoke to reporters for The Times. “I’m sorry, I fear for my kids,” she said.

Here are the latest maps of the invasion and the latest updates.

Aims: Zelensky described himself as “target No. 1” for Russian forces, followed by his family, but vowed to remain in the capital. “I am asking citizens of Kyiv to be vigilant and adhere to the rules of martial law,” he said. He disputed Russia’s claims that it was striking only military targets.

The case for war: For the second time in days, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, addressed Russians about his aims in Ukraine. He portrayed the conflict as one waged against the West as a whole and argued that the West wanted to use Ukraine as a springboard to invade and destroy Russia.

President Biden announced new sanctions on Thursday.Credit…Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

‘Putin chose this war’

Biden, vowing to turn Putin into a “pariah,” announced tough new sanctions yesterday aimed at cutting off Russia’s largest banks and some oligarchs from much of the global financial system, and at preventing the country from importing American technology critical to its defense, aerospace and maritime industries.

The package is expected to ripple across companies and households in Russia, where anxiety over Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has already begun setting in. It was the second round of American sanctions imposed on Russia this week. Russia’s stock market fell more than 30 percent yesterday, wiping out a huge amount of wealth.

The sanctions against the financial giants will cause immediate disruptions to Russia’s economy but are manageable over the longer term, analysts said. The technology restrictions, on the other hand, could cripple the ability of certain Russian industries to keep up. They were accompanied by a blizzard of sanctions from the E.U. as well as Britain and other countries.

Quotable: “Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Biden said in remarks from the East Room of the White House. “This is going to impose severe cost on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time.”

Effects: The price of oil at one point jumped beyond $105 a barrel, European natural gas futures soared more than 50 percent and global stock indexes fell yesterday, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine extended market turmoil.

By the numbers: Russia has a large sovereign wealth fund and has accumulated foreign currency reserves of $631 billion, the fourth-largest such reserve in the world. Some analysts have suggested that the only way to destroy its macroeconomic stability would be to sanction the central bank and introduce an Iran-style embargo on energy exports.

Police officers in Moscow detained a protester during a rally on Thursday against Russia’s attack on Ukraine.Credit…Alexander Nemenov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Russians see a new side to Putin

For most of his 22-year rule, Putin has presented himself as a leader who astutely manages risk to navigate Russia through treacherous shoals. But his attack on Ukraine has revealed him to Russians as an altogether different leader: one dragging the nuclear superpower he helms into a war with no foreseeable conclusion.

Russians awoke in shock after they learned that Putin, in an address to the nation that aired before 6 a.m. local time, had ordered a full-scale assault against what Russians of all political stripes often refer to as their “brotherly nation,” even as the state-run news media characterized the invasion as not a war, but as a “special military operation” limited to eastern Ukraine.

In Moscow’s foreign policy establishment, where analysts overwhelmingly characterized Putin’s military buildup around Ukraine as an elaborate and astute bluff in recent months, many admitted yesterday that they had monumentally misjudged their leader. “Everything that we believed turned out to be wrong,” said one analyst, who insisted on anonymity.

Consequences: Russia’s stock market plummeted 35 percent and A.T.M.s ran short of dollars. On the country’s internet, which is still mostly uncensored, Russians saw their vaunted military sow carnage in a country in which millions of them had relatives and friends.

‘No to war!’: Thousands of people took to the streets and squares of Russian cities yesterday to protest Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, only to be met with a heavy police presence.


Virus News

Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
  • Some African countries are vastly ramping up vaccination rates under a new distribution system.

  • Queen Elizabeth canceled virtual events for the second time since testing positive for the coronavirus.

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

Other Big Stories

Credit…Farah Abdi Warsameh/Associated Press
  • The U.S. carried out its first airstrike against Al Shabab militants in Somalia since August, targeting those who had attacked allied Somali security forces.

  • Three former police officers who helped arrest George Floyd were convicted of violating his civil rights.

  • A highly contagious and deadly form of bird flu has been barreling across the U.S. in recent weeks, killing both wild birds and farmed poultry.

What Else Is Happening

  • Antiquities valued at more than $20 million have been returned to Greece from the U.S. The 55 items seized by the Manhattan district attorney’s office are thought to have been stolen from archaeological sites.

  • An NFT auction at Sotheby’s was abruptly canceled after the consignor withdrew the collection and posted a mocking meme.

  • A Yeezy Gap/Balenciaga collaboration has arrived. Is it worth it?

A Morning Read

Credit…Adam Ferguson for The New York Times

It was a journey that seemed doomed from the start: an octogenarian couple, one spiriting the other away from a residential care home in a white Mazda pickup, the breadth of the treacherous Australian outback laid out before them.

That strange saga, which sparked a nationwide manhunt in January, ended in tragedy after the couple died this week within days of each other.


Credit…Nasuna Stuart-Ulin for The New York Times

Using science and Celtic wisdom to save trees

Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a scientist, poet, author and developer of artificial blood. But her main focus for decades now has been to telegraph to the world the wondrous capabilities of trees, as Cara Buckley reports for The Times.

Beresford-Kroeger, who is 77 and lives in the woods of Canada, wants to combat the climate crisis by fighting for what’s left of the great forests and rebuilding what’s already come down. Trained in the ways of druids by Celtic medicine women, she can talk about the medicinal value of trees in one breath and their connection to human souls in the next.

On her own property, she has cultivated an arboreal Noah’s Ark of rare and hardy specimens that can best withstand a warming planet, planting native trees that sequester more carbon and that can better resist drought, storms and temperature swings.

Beresford-Kroeger spent her childhood summers with Gaelic-speaking relatives in the Irish countryside. There, she was taught ancient Irish ways of life known as the Brehon law and learned that in Druidic thinking, trees were viewed as sentient beings that connected the Earth to the heavens. Later, she put those teachings to the scientific test and discovered with a start that they were true.

Read more about Beresford-Kroeger’s work.


What to Cook

Credit…Jonathan Player for The New York Times

Throw together Thai red curry paste, chickpeas and pumpkin for an aromatic hot pot that can be served as a mildly spiced vegetarian curry.

What to Read

Find your next great read in this list of 14 books coming out in March.


Solitude doesn’t have to feel lonely. With a little practice, it can be restoring and refreshing.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “It was so funny,” using a nonliteral expression (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. See you next week. — Natasha

P.S. Jason Karaian, the DealBook editor, will be the news director of the Business desk.

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

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

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