Your Wednesday Briefing

Lloyd Austin, the U.S. defense secretary.Credit…Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

International support to arm Ukraine

The U.S. has marshaled 40 allies to furnish Ukraine with long-term military aid in what could become a protracted battle against the Russian invasion. Defense officials from Australia, Belgium, Britain, Italy, Israel and other countries will meet monthly to ensure they “strengthen Ukraine’s military for the long haul,” said Lloyd Austin, the U.S. defense secretary. Follow the latest updates.

In a major policy shift, Germany said it would send up to 50 armored vehicles designed to shoot down aircraft but also fire at targets on the ground. The German government had previously cited a range of reasons to avoid shipping such heavy arms to Ukraine. It was among many signals yesterday pointing to further escalation in the war.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said that the influx of heavy weapons from Western countries was effectively pushing Ukraine to sabotage peace talks with Moscow. He also reintroduced the specter of nuclear war, noting that the risks had increased because NATO had “engaged in a war with Russia through a proxy and arming that proxy.”

Response: Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called Lavrov’s remarks a sign that “Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine.” John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said a nuclear war “cannot be won and it shouldn’t be fought.” He added: “There’s no reason for the current conflict in Ukraine to get to that level at all.”

Departures: More than five million people, 90 percent of them women and children, have left Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. A further 7.7 million have been driven from their homes by the conflict but remain in the country.

In other updates from the war:

  • In the south, Russian missiles struck the city of Zaporizhzhia yesterday. Russian forces also have seized the City Council building in Kherson, the city’s mayor warned.

  • In the east, the small town of Orikhiv is just one of many Ukrainian communities under constant fire.

  • President Biden announced a new program allowing Americans to sponsor Ukrainian refugees.

A makeshift testing site in Beijing on Tuesday.Credit…Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Beijing begins ambitious mandatory testing

Faced with a growing number of coronavirus infections, city officials in Beijing have ordered about three-quarters of the city’s population of 22 million to undergo three mandatory rounds of testing in five days, after recording several dozen new infections since Friday. Nearly four million people were tested on Monday alone.

In Shanghai, officials started testing on a similar scale only after infections had been recorded for weeks and more than 1,000 cases had emerged. The idea is to move faster with testing to understand how widely the outbreak has spread before seeking to impose restrictions on movement.

Officials have acknowledged that the highly contagious, stealthy Omicron variant had breached Beijing’s defenses and probably has gone undetected in the city for a week, particularly in the populous district of Chaoyang. Beijing officials urged residents to work remotely and suspended large-scale gatherings.

Panic buying: Concerns about a lockdown had prompted some to stock up on groceries, but stores still appeared well supplied. “Domestic goods are sufficient and supply is sufficient, please consume rationally,” blared a loudspeaker at one supermarket. “Do not overbuy, and do not believe and spread rumors.”

Solidarity among chaos: As the authorities in Shanghai fight to stamp out an Omicron outbreak, neighbors are turning to one another for support.

In other pandemic news:

  • A growing number of studies suggest that getting a Covid vaccine reduces — but does not eliminate — the risk of longer-term symptoms.

  • Sixty percent of Americans had been infected with the coronavirus by February, according to health officials.

  • Vice President Kamala Harris has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Pumping oil in Bakersfield, Calif.Credit…Alex Welsh for The New York Times

Why U.S. oil companies aren’t riding to Europe’s rescue

Despite high oil and gasoline prices and with energy company profits to match, most U.S. oil businesses are not eager to capitalize on this moment by pumping more oil — or to help Europe end its fuel dependence on Russia, as some European leaders have promised. This deep-seated reluctance stands in contrast to how the oil industry has typically behaved when prices have surged.

The biggest reason oil production isn’t increasing is that U.S. energy companies and Wall Street investors are not sure that prices will stay high long enough for them to make a profit from drilling lots of new wells. Many remember the drastic drop in prices two years ago that forced companies to lay off thousands of employees, shut down wells and even seek bankruptcy protection.

U.S. oil production is essentially flat — up less than 2 percent, to 11.8 million barrels a day, since December, well below the prepandemic record of 13.1 million barrels a day set in March 2020. Government forecasters predict that production will increase by roughly another million in 2023, far short of the nearly four million barrels that Europe imports from Russia every day.

International context: Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and other OPEC nations have also refused to pump a lot more oil since Russia’s war in Ukraine began in late February.


Around the World

Credit…Korean Central News Agency, via Associated Press
  • In a military parade on Monday, Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, vowed to expand the country’s nuclear arsenal “at the fastest possible speed​.”

  • In the years since the U.A.E. normalized relations with Israel, Dubai’s Jewish community has felt freer than ever to express its traditions and religious identity.

  • An anonymously sourced tabloid story in Britain about Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, has sparked a debate over both journalistic ethics and sexism in Parliament.

What Else Is Happening

  • Emerging virtual reality treatments may provide relief for chronic pain similar to intravenous opioids.

  • The number of antisemitic incidents in New York increased by 24 percent last year to the highest level in decades, including a surge in the number of assaults.

  • Harvard University has pledged $100 million to study and redress its ties to slavery, including by building memorials and curriculum to honor and expose the past.

A Morning Read

Credit…Andrea Morales for The New York Times

Piloting is a stubbornly monolithic profession: About 95 percent of airline pilots in the U.S. today are male. Nearly as many are white.

Now there’s urgency for the industry to act. Pilots are in short supply, and if airlines want to make the most of the thriving recovery from the pandemic, they will have to learn to foster lasting change.


Credit…Gus Powell for The New York Times

The year’s biggest art show

The crowds are a bit thinner and there are fewer mega-yachts, but the Venice Biennale remains “art’s most combustible mixture of creative minds, spectacular wealth and a global culture stumbling its way toward the future,” our critic-at-large, Jason Farago, writes in a review.

The Biennale consists of a main exhibition of contemporary art, along with more than 90 pavilions where countries organize their own shows. This year’s main show revolves around surrealism, cyborgism, and animal and plant life, and the majority of its participants are women. It’s “a coherent and challenging show, whose optimistic vision of emancipation through imagination feels very rare nowadays.” Jason writes.

A few highlights from the national presentations: Stan Douglas of Canada used photography and video art to delve into the intersecting uprisings of 2011 (the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, the London riots). And Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, a Roma artist, created a 12-part tapestry stitched with imagery of Romani migration and everyday life.


What to Cook

Credit…Linda Xiao for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Rebecca Jurkevich.

Add gnocchi to braised greens to turn a side dish into a vibrant one-pot meal fit for weeknights.

What to Read

In “The Palace Papers,” Tina Brown traces how 21st-century journalism has helped reshape the British royal family.

What to Watch

A son must save his mother in “Luzifer,” an ambitious German thriller that tackles questions of religious fanaticism and capitalist greed.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Knitting ball (four letters).

And here’s today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. Dean Baquet, the outgoing executive editor of The Times, will lead a local investigative reporting fellowship.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on masks.

Sanam Yar wrote today’s Arts and Ideas. You can reach Natasha and the team at

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