Ukraine and Russia are talking...while the war continues.
Yesterday, officials from Ukraine and Russia met at the Belarusian border. The talks — the first since Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine last week — lasted five hours. The good news: the two sides agreed to keep talking. The bad news: They didn’t agree to a ceasefire. Instead, the violence has escalated. And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy isn't optimistic. As he reportedly put it, real negotiations "can only take place when one side is not attacking the other with rocket artillery."
What’s the latest?
Putin is still going full force in hopes of capturing Ukraine. Civilians spent the night in shelters as the assault on Kharkiv intensified. Satellite images show a Russian military convoy that stretches about 40 miles heading towards Kyiv. And Russia has reportedly used highly controversial cluster munitions in two civilian targets. A rocket attack in Kharkiv killed at least 10 civilians and injured dozens more — an act Zelenskyy labeled a "war crime." (Russia has denied targeting civilians.) But Russian forces have been met with fierce resistance from Ukraine — especially around Kyiv — and have yet to take over the city.
And what happens next?
Despite putting his nuclear forces on combat alert, there doesn’t seem to be movement on that front. So at least there's that.
It’s been six days since Putin invaded Ukraine. That's longer than many expected a country could hold up against the Russian Army. But with each passing day, the threat of escalation and further violence remains.
PS: Need a reminder of how Russia and Ukraine got to this point? We got you covered.
PPS: Here's how you can help.
The World Is Watching
It's almost a week since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. But many didn’t need that long to decide where they stand. Here's what that looks like with...
Countries: The EU is solidly behind Ukraine, with Germany breaking with precedent and sending weapons — and even neutral Switzerland issuing sanctions. And it’s not just the West. Tens of thousands of protesters across the world have turned out in support of Ukraine, with more than 2,000 arrested in Russia. Meanwhile, Belarus is firmly Team Putin. But Russian allies like China, India, and Turkey have pushed for negotiations or peace.
Non-state actors: Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and TikTok have been banning Russian state media. Elon Musk is propping up Ukraine’s internet. Disney, Netflix, and even Eurovision Song Contest are taking a stance. Russian athletes are on the outs from the World Cup and other international competitions. The world has rallied around Ukraine. And the sanctions on Russia are unprecedented. The support is also raising questions about…
Racism in War
Many have pointed out the discrepancy between the West’s treatment of white Europeans in this conflict and other refugees. Here’s a closer look at:
Open arms, closed arms: Last week, Poland said it would do "everything to provide safe shelter" for "everyone who needs it." Compare that to last year, when Polish troops used tear gas and water cannons on migrants from countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. And Poland's not alone: Hungary and Slovakia have also pulled a 180 on their treatment of refugees. The change comes amid reports that Nigerians and South Africans feeling the war in Ukraine have been pushed to the back of the line.
Language: Over the weekend, CBS came under fire for a correspondent's comments describing Ukraine as more "civilized" than Iraq or Afghanistan. One French news commentator said, "we're not talking about Syrians fleeing bombs" but about "Europeans leaving in cars that look like ours." In case you missed it: all refugees are human beings.
While Russia’s trying to act like it’s the Soviet Union…
Let’s talk about the state of our union. Tonight at 9pm ET, President Biden will be delivering his first State of the Union address. You can catch 46's speech on all major news networks, the WH's website and, bless its heart, C-SPAN. He's expected to cover a wide range of topics including Ukraine, the next stage of the pandemic, his historic SCOTUS nominee, and that 'great asset' inflation. The speech comes as Biden's approval ratings have been hovering around 40%. And when it's all over, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) is ready to jump in with the GOP rebuttal.
PS: Here's what else you can expect from President Biden's first State of the Union address.
What’s not getting better…
Climate change. A UN report yesterday found an “unavoidable” increase in risk to humans over the next 18 years. And people in 2100 could experience four times the frequency of extreme weather events like droughts, floods, and heat waves.
Who’s packing his bags…
An Estée Lauder exec. Yesterday, the beauty company announced John Demsey is leaving after getting flak for his Instagram post containing a racial slur.
While we’re talking about Women’s History Month…
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