Your Friday Briefing: Russia’s Large-Scale Military Drills

Your Friday Briefing: Russia’s Large-Scale Military Drills

We’re covering Russia’s large-scale military exercises near Ukraine and trucker protests at the U.S.-Canada border that are forcing a slowdown at car plants.

Thousands of Russian troops began 10 days of military exercises in Belarus on Thursday while the diplomatic efforts to avoid a war in Ukraine showed few signs of progress.

In Moscow, Russia’s top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, held talks with his British counterpart that he described as resembling “the conversation of a mute person with a deaf person.” President Vladimir Putin of Russia was slightly more conciliatory, telling reporters that negotiations with the West were continuing and that Russia was preparing written responses to U.S. proposals.

A display of firepower: In Belarus, Russian fighter jets launched air patrols, and Russia’s potent S-400 air defense systems were deployed near the Ukrainian border. Off Ukraine’s southeastern coast, in the Black Sea and the Azov Sea, Russia was preparing to hold large-scale naval exercises — which Ukrainians said would block vital trade routes.

Russia’s response: Russia described all the drills as legal, and promised that its troops would leave Belarus after the exercises there conclude on Feb. 20.

Several blockades at the Canada-U.S. border by truckers protesting Canadian vaccine mandates are forcing car companies to close production lines. There is growing alarm that the protests in Canada are threatening the country’s economy and trade with the U.S., its biggest trading partner.

The blockade at the Ambassador Bridge, which links Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is especially disruptive. Toyota, Ford and G.M. all said they had been affected and had scaled back work.

The Biden administration said that the blockades posed a risk to auto industry supply chains, and that it was tracking potential disruptions to agricultural exports from Michigan into Canada. Here are the latest updates.

The House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol is working to recreate what President Donald Trump was doing behind closed doors during crucial moments of the assault. But investigators have hit an obstacle: sparse White House phone logs.

Investigators, who are aware that Trump was making calls throughout the day, have discovered gaps in the official phone logs and few records of his calls. They have not uncovered evidence that any records were tampered with or deleted, and it is well-known that Trump routinely used his personal cellphone and those of his aides.

Many questions: Few details of what Trump did inside the White House as rioters stormed the Capitol are known. He was watching television, and several aides, including his daughter Ivanka Trump, implored him to say something to try to stop the rioters. The panel is awaiting additional material.

Related: Trump is also under scrutiny for apparently violating the Presidential Records Act by ripping up some White House documents and taking others with him when he left office. The House Oversight committee has announced an investigation.

Asia Pacific

America is facing a truck driver shortage. A 1,000-mile journey by our reporter reveals the fundamental reason: It is a job full of stress, physical deprivation and loneliness.

In late 2019, Virgil Abloh, the boundary-smashing designer who died last year, gave an interview to Dazed magazine in which he declared the end of the fashion.

“I would definitely say it’s gonna die, you know? Like, its time will be up,” he said, immediately engendering a mass freakout.

Abloh ended up walking his statement back a bit, but two years after he made his prediction there’s little question he was right, writes our fashion critic, Vanessa Friedman. The hoodies, sneakers and T-shirts of the style have become so absorbed by high fashion that the line between the two has effectively disappeared.

“I can’t even define it anymore,” said Arby Li, vice president for content strategy at Hypebeast, a streetwear fan blog that became a lifestyle brand and went public in 2016.

Streetwear-the-fashion-sector was born in the 1980s and ’90s from the intersection of skate and surf kid culture, hip-hop and underground art: a reaction against an industry in which the creators could not see themselves or their value system.

But now the old guard, desperate to stay relevant, has gone from flirting with the outsiders — Louis Vuitton collaborating with Supreme in 2017; Ralph Lauren collaborating with Palace in 2018 — to giving them the keys to the castle.

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