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Your Monday Briefing: The Olympics Start

Good morning. We’re overlaying the beginning of the Winter Olympics, tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and Afghanistan’s crumbling well being care system.

China’s chief, Xi Jinping, opened the Beijing Video games on Friday with a transparent intent to celebrate his country’s increasingly assured global status.

Xi stood defiantly with Vladimir Putin, the chief of Russia, a calculated show of solidarity to indicate their partnership and venture their rising impatience with Western censure. (President Biden and different democratic leaders vital of China’s human rights document stayed house.)

China additionally picked an athlete with a Uyghur name to assist gentle the cauldron on the shut of the ceremony, a alternative that confronted the criticism head-on.

Covid: On Friday, 20 athletes and group officers tested positive at the airport. Right here’s a map of China’s cases.

Moscow will not be able to breach Ukraine, however elements of Russia’s military look like in the final stages of preparation, based on a Ukrainian navy evaluation.

Of specific concern is the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014. Within the final two weeks, Russia has deployed a further 10,000 troops to the area.

Alongside a lot of Ukraine’s border, Russia has massed roughly 130,000 troops, in what analysts describe as a near-textbook instance of a contemporary navy making closing preparations for warfare. U.S. officers mentioned that’s about 70 % of the forces Russia would want to invade.

Particulars: U.S. officers mentioned {that a} large-scale Russian invasion might kill as many as 50,000 civilians and immediate a refugee disaster throughout Europe.


The nation’s hospitals and clinics are struggling to carry up amid a money scarcity and a vast surge of malnutrition and disease. By one estimate, 90 % of Afghanistan’s well being clinics had been prone to shut down quickly.

Earlier than the federal government fell in August, the well being system relied on worldwide support. It has crumbled after the Taliban took management. Late final month, António Guterres, the United Nations secretary basic, referred to as for international locations to droop all sanctions that restricted the supply of humanitarian support.

Particulars: The nation’s largest hospital practically shut down in October, when the unpaid employees needed to lower down bushes for cooking fires. The U.N. predicts that 4.7 million Afghans are prone to endure extreme malnutrition this 12 months. Youngsters are particularly susceptible.

Quotable: “When I attempt to discuss to individuals about Covid-19, they are saying we’ve got no meals, no water, no electrical energy — why ought to we care about this virus?” mentioned the medical director of the one remaining Covid facility in Kabul.

Europe: Educated Afghan refugees are welcomed, however they wrestle with their lives in exile. Their poorer compatriots are sometimes shunned.

Asia and the Pacific

Has the wreckage of Captain Cook’s famous ship lastly been found? Researchers within the U.S. and Australia disagree on whether or not they have discovered the wreck of the HMB Endeavour off the coast of Rhode Island. An Australian researcher referred to as it “one of the crucial necessary and contentious vessels in Australia’s maritime historical past.”

The Saturday Profile: Randa Abd Al-Aziz, the first Black news anchor in Iraq, is a part of an effort to mirror the nation’s variety on its tv.

Lives lived: Lata Mangeshkar enthralled generations of Bollywood audiences because the singing voice behind many actresses’ performances. She died on Sunday at 92.

Chaos and speedy gunfire. A girl wails as she falls. Enter the Russian mercenary warriors, who will save the beleaguered villagers from jihadists.

Loosely primarily based on a controversial 2019 mission by Russian navy operatives to place down an insurgency in Mozambique, the Russian movie “Granite” is the most recent blockbuster that goals to retell Russia’s story in Africa.

Whereas U.N. investigators blame the Russian non-public navy operatives, just like the Wagner Group, for driving war crimes in Africa, movies like “Granite” painting Russia’s function as heroic.

“Hahaha” is how one Mozambican journalist started his commentary on the movie. Writing in Carta de Moçambique, an area information website, the journalist Marcelo Mosse referred to as the movie “a form of docudrama selling mercenarism.” For Mosse and others, the movie raises uncomfortable questions on Russia’s function in Africa.

More and more, international locations turning away from former colonial powers have pivoted to Russia. After current coups in Mali and Burkina Faso, avenue protesters in each international locations waved Russian flags.

It’s not the primary time Russian filmmakers have appeared to mercenaries in Africa for inspiration. Final 12 months, the movie “Vacationer” depicted the heroics of Russian mercenaries within the Central African Republic with the identical blood, gore and clichés. Russian media has reported that the movie’s manufacturing firm has ties to Yevgeny Prigozhin, an oligarch who’s near President Vladimir Putin.

What to Prepare dinner

This weeknight ramen options an egg and a fast, soothing broth flavored with wealthy seaweed and sweet-salty miso.

What to Watch

The Worst Person in the World,” a Norwegian romantic comedy, follows a lady (performed by Renate Reinsve) in her 30s making an attempt to determine who she desires to be.

What to Learn

In Sheila Heti’s new novel, “Pure Colour,” she considers how love and artwork can heal.

Now Time to Play

Right here’s today’s Mini Crossword.

And right here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.


That’s it for as we speak’s briefing. See you subsequent time. — Amelia

P.S. Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne 70 years in the past on Sunday. “In a rustic that lurched from the storms of Brexit into the siege of the pandemic, she has been an unmatched anchor of stability,” our London bureau chief writes in an analysis.

The most recent episode of “The Daily” is on the “zero-Covid” Olympics.

Lynsey Chutel wrote the Arts and Concepts part. You possibly can attain Amelia and the group at briefing@nytimes.com.

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