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Wednesday Briefing: Russia Warned Against NATO Troops in Ukraine

WorldAsiaWednesday Briefing: Russia Warned Against NATO Troops in Ukraine

Russia warned yesterday that a ground intervention in Ukraine by any NATO country would lead to a direct clash between the Western military alliance and Russian forces. The response came a day after France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, made a provocative comment about the possibility of allied countries sending in troops.

The Kremlin called the open discussion of NATO ground troops in Ukraine “a very important new element” and warned that “this is, of course, not in the interest of these countries.”

European countries rushed to distance themselves from Macron’s comment, and the NATO chief said the alliance had no such plans. France later clarified that Macron was trying to emphasize how Europe must consider new actions to support Ukraine.

The fractured messaging underscores how NATO — despite becoming more powerful with the approval of Finland and Sweden’s membership bids — is grasping for ways to support Kyiv as resolve weakens in the U.S. and as Russia advances on the battlefield.

Analysis: A foreign ground intervention in Ukraine is seen as unlikely by most analysts. Since Russia’s invasion, the U.S. and most of its European allies have categorically ruled out the possibility, warning that such a step could escalate into nuclear war.

After President Biden expressed cautious optimism on Monday about the chance of a cease-fire in Gaza by next week, Hamas threw cold water on the prospect that it was close to reaching an agreement with Israel.

A Hamas spokesman said that the group had yet to formally receive “any new proposals” since Israeli officials met mediators in Paris last week. Qatar, a key figure in the talks, also said negotiations hadn’t reached a breakthrough, although mediators remain optimistic.

Here’s the latest.

A possible offer: Israeli officials are discussing a proposal for a roughly six-week cease-fire, during which about 40 hostages could be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners. Some of the prisoners are serving heavy sentences for terrorism, and their release would be a concession aimed at persuading Hamas to make a deal. Officials hope to reach an agreement before Ramadan begins in less than two weeks.

Other developments:

A team of French researchers found that mercury levels in the fish have remained virtually unchanged, despite decades of global regulations that have curbed releases of the toxic metal.

That’s most likely because “legacy” mercury that has accumulated deep in the ocean is circulating into shallower depths where tuna feed, a new study suggests. The researchers predicted that even with the strictest mercury regulations, it would take another 10 to 25 years for concentrations to start falling in the ocean. Drops in mercury levels in tuna would follow only decades after that.

After World War II destabilized Europe, New York usurped Paris as the commercial center of the art business. For generations, artists flocked to the city hoping to make their names.

Now, the talent and ambition are still there, but the cheap rent of those early years isn’t. And yet, despite skyrocketing prices, some continue to carve out studio spaces of their own.

Lives lived: Pankaj Udhas, whose soulful renditions of lyric love songs were a cornerstone of many Bollywood films over his decades-long career, died at 72.

In the absurdist HBO series “The Regime,” which premieres this weekend, Kate Winslet plays a dictator somewhere in Central Europe who is making it up as she goes along. Her character is a hypochondriac and an agoraphobe. She is “fearless,” Winslet said, “and yet terrified of the world.”

The show was created by Will Tracy, whose previous writing credits include “Succession” and “The Menu.” He researched leaders from Syria, Russia and Romania, and found that they shared “a shaky relationship with reality” and “a desperate need for survival.”

The role was “a heck of a lot of fun,” Winslet said, adding, “I have to let the audience know, this is something they are allowed to laugh at.”

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