Your Monday Briefing

President Biden is considering sending thousands of troops, warships and aircraft to the Baltics and Eastern Europe in response to Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine. The move would signal a major pivot for his administration, which until recently was taking a restrained stance on Ukraine, out of fear of provoking Russia into invading.

Senior Pentagon officials on Saturday presented Biden with several options, one of which includes sending 1,000 to 5,000 troops to Eastern European countries, with the potential to increase that number tenfold if the situation deteriorates. Biden is expected to make a decision as early as this week, officials said.

In a highly unusual public statement, backed by U.S. officials, the British government said over the weekend that the Kremlin appeared to be developing plans to install Yevgeniy Murayev, a former member of Ukraine’s Parliament, as leader of a pro-Kremlin puppet government. Moscow has deployed more than 100,000 Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders.

Explainers: Here are the basics of the conflict and one way a war might start.

Chernobyl: Ukraine has initiated a defensive strategy for the isolated zone around the power plant, which lies on the shortest path between Russia and Kyiv. Its security forces are patrolling one of the most radioactive places on Earth.

President Biden took office last January with a 200-page coronavirus response strategy, promising a “full-scale wartime effort” rooted in science and competence, with vaccines at its core. In a July 4 address, after a successful vaccine rollout, he announced that the U.S. had moved “closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus.”

But soon after his speech, it was discovered that vaccinated people could spread the virus, calling into question the Biden administration’s almost single-minded focus on vaccination as the path out of the pandemic. Though Biden’s approach put the U.S. in a far better place to combat the virus than it was in a year ago, there have been key setbacks, according to interviews with scores of current and former administration officials, public health experts and governors:

  • The White House bet that the pandemic would follow a straight line, and it was unprepared for the threat of variants, even after clear warning signals from the rest of the world.

  • Rather than forcing Americans to become vaccinated, Biden tiptoed around an organized Republican revolt over masks, mandates, vaccine passports and even the vaccine itself.

Latest news: Speaking yesterday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s top medical adviser, said that cases in the U.S. could soon fall to manageable levels. New coronavirus cases have started to fall nationally, but deaths continue to rise.

Gunfire erupted at military bases in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, and in two other cities just before dawn yesterday as part of an attempted mutiny by soldiers angered by their government’s failure to halt a wave of Islamist militant attacks. Hours later, the government issued a statement denying that a coup was underway.

Soldiers have retained control of the bases and demanded sweeping changes to the campaign against Islamic militants, badly undermining the government’s authority. Riot police officers fired tear gas in central Ouagadougou to prevent a crowd of young demonstrators from reaching a traditional protest site. The demonstrators were calling for the ouster of Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, the president.

By nightfall a state of uneasy calm had fallen across the city, with a smaller number of protesters gathered outside a major military base, urging the mutinying soldiers to seize power outright. There was no sign of the president.

Context: The mutiny comes a few months after Kaboré changed the military leadership in what analysts saw as an attempt to quell opposition in the armed forces. This month, the government arrested a dozen soldiers on suspicion of conspiring against the government.

Thierry Mugler, the outrageous, genre-busting designer who dominated European runways in the late 1980s and early 1990s, died yesterday at 73. No cause of death was given.

Mugler was one of the principal architects of a late-’80s aesthetic that married S&M and high fashion — latex, leather and curves. His silhouette was a kind of inverse triangle with giant shoulders and a nipped waist, and his early muses included Grace Jones and Joey Arias. He had a longstanding creative collaboration with David Bowie.

But Mugler’s ability to mine pop culture and his unabashed embrace of gay iconography overshadowed his spectacular tailoring and construction technique, ghettoizing him at a time when the AIDS epidemic had become a political battleground.

“The outwardness of designers embracing being gay wasn’t then a thing,” said Paul Cavaco, who during Mugler’s heyday was the fashion director of Harper’s Bazaar. “People knew but you didn’t really talk about it. It was considered not chic. And here he was sending drag queens like Lypsinka down the runway.”

In 2019, 17 years after he left his brand, he made something of a comeback: Cardi B showed up to the Grammys looking like a Disney princess in a flesh-toned bodice. A few months later Kim Kardashian wore a Mugler-designed dress at the Met Gala that made her every curve appear to have been drenched in high fructose corn syrup. The viral looks introduced him to millions of new fans.

Leave a Reply