Good morning. We’re covering Russia’s bombardment of Kyiv and China’s effort to contain its biggest coronavirus outbreak since Wuhan.
Russia bombards Kyiv
Russia launched a flurry of artillery strikes on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, as its invasion headed into a third week. The attacks followed days of fighting in the suburbs of the city, and the Kremlin has insisted that “all plans” for the invasion will be fulfilled. Follow our live updates.
In Kyiv, a missile strike hit a nine-story apartment building on Monday, severely damaging the structure and killing least two people. “We do not have a military target near us,” Yuriy Yurchik, a 30-year-old resident, told The Times. “We did not think we ourselves would be a target.”
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Military experts warn that the battle for Kyiv could be drawn out and decisive. Some estimate it could take two weeks for Russian forces to encircle the Ukrainian capital and at least a month of bloody, destructive fighting for them to take the city.
Russian and Ukrainian officials concluded a meeting with little sign of progress. Negotiations were to resume today.
Covid surges in China
China is grappling with its largest surge of infections since the coronavirus first emerged there more than two years ago. The government is racing to impose strict containment measures, but sustained outbreaks in two-thirds of the country’s provinces are the toughest test yet of its “Covid zero” policies.
Global commerce may soon take a hit. Several of China’s largest factory cities have ordered lockdowns or imposed new restrictions, halting production of Toyota cars and Apple phones.
Shenzen, the hub of China’s tech sector and one of the world’s largest ports, imposed a weeklong lockdown, limiting all but the most essential movement. Last spring, an outbreak there held up port operations and caused a steep increase in global shipping rates that helped drive up prices for imported goods.
Context: The Omicron variant is fueling the outbreak. China has a very high vaccination rate, except among the elderly, and little more than half of infected people do not have symptoms. China has comparatively far fewer intensive care hospital beds than most industrialized countries, and rural hospitals in particular could quickly become overwhelmed.
Lockdowns: Officials seal the entrances to a store, office building or even convention center in response to a single case, trapping everyone inside for up to several days until they are tested and, if their results are positive, sent into isolation.
Hong Kong: Particularly in southern China, many have reacted by blaming nearby Hong Kong, where an epidemic has overwhelmed hospitals and morgues. The city has said it doesn’t have the testing capacity to carry out the mainland’s strict strategy.
In other developments:
A study estimates that there were 720,000 fewer dengue cases globally in the first year of the pandemic because of restrictions on movement.
Moderna is expected to send U.S. officials initial data this week on how well its vaccine works in young children.
Barack Obama tested positive for the coronavirus but said he’s “feeling fine.”
Tragedy at the U.S.-Canada border
In January, a family of four froze to death as they tried to cross into the U.S. from Canada. They were just about 15 meters from the border.
Jagdish Patel, 39, and his wife, Vaishali, 37, had been teachers in the Indian state of Gujarat until Covid-19 shuttered schools there. With few options, they traveled to Canada on a visa and paid to be smuggled into the U.S. with their 11-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.
March 15, 2022, 11:20 a.m. ET
The smugglers dropped a group of migrants, including the family, about five miles (eight kilometers) from the border, despite a blizzard warning. As the group trudged through knee- to waist-deep snow for 11 hours in whiteout conditions, the temperature neared -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-29 Celsius), and the Patels got separated from the group.
Context: As the U.S. tightens controls on its southern border, hundreds of migrants a year are trying their luck from Canada, where the boundary is less fortified.
Background: In Gujarat, which has a long history of immigration to the U.S., smuggling enterprises masquerade as travel agencies.
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Cambodia has been open to foreign tourists for months, but the pandemic continues to depress tourism. Until crowds return, the sprawling temple complex of Angkor Wat is almost empty during what is normally peak tourist season. “You can’t help but feel a bit special when you have one of the world’s wonders to yourself,” one visitor said.
Does planting trees help the planet?
Reforestation is an attractive opportunity for brands looking to increase their climate credibility and bolster their sustainability records. A tree planted for every T-shirt purchased. For every bottle of wine sold. For every swipe of a credit card.
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Trees can slow climate change by locking away planet-warming carbon dioxide. But companies and countries often plant commercial, nonnative species in their reforestation projects, which can instead worsen the problems they were meant to solve.
Those trees will hold carbon — all trees do — but they provide little support to the webs of life that once thrived in those areas. That can reduce biodiversity and threaten water supplies, speeding extinctions and making ecosystems far less resilient. “You’re creating basically a sterile landscape,” one conservationist said.
The best efforts try to address a range of needs, according to restoration experts, but it can be hard to reconcile competing interests. There are many players involved. Some advocate big tree farms for carbon storage and timber. Others call for providing fruit trees to small-scale farmers. And some say it’s best to allow native species to regenerate.