Over 130,000 Russian troops now staged outside Ukraine
-- Some airlines canceled flights to the Ukrainian capital and troops there
unloaded fresh shipments of weapons from NATO members Sunday, as its president
sought to project confidence in the face of U.S. warnings of possible invasion
within days by a growing number of Russian forces.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to President Joe Biden for about an hour, insisting
that Ukrainians had the country under ¡°safe and reliable protection¡± against
feared attack by a far stronger Russian military, aides said afterward. The
White House said both agreed to keep pushing both deterrence and diplomacy to
try to stave off a feared Russian military offensive.
Biden administration has become increasingly outspoken about its concerns that
Russia will stage an incident in the coming days that would create a false
pretext for an invasion of Ukraine.
and European intelligence findings in recent days have sparked worries that
Russia may try to target a scheduled Ukrainian military exercise slated for
Tuesday in eastern Ukraine to launch such a ¡°false-flag operation,¡±
according to two people familiar with the matter. They spoke on condition of
anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about it.
intelligence officials believe targeting the military exercise is just one of
multiple options that Russia has weighed as a possibility for a false-flag
operation. The White House has underscored that they do not know with certainty
if President Vladimir Putin has made a final determination to launch an
forces are massing on Ukraine¡¯s north, east and south in what the Kremlin
insists are military exercises.
U.S. official updated the Biden administration's estimate for how many Russian
forces are now staged near Ukraine's borders to more than 130,000, up from the
more than 100,000 the U.S. has cited publicly in previous weeks. The official
spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration's conclusions.
has repeatedly played down the U.S. warnings, questioning the increasingly
strident statements from U.S. officials in recent days that Russia could be
planning to invade as soon as midweek.
understand all the risks, we understand that there are risks,¡± he said in a
broadcast Saturday. ¡°If you, or anyone else, has additional information
regarding a 100% Russian invasion starting on the 16th, please forward that
information to us.¡±
while Zelenskyy has urged against panic that he fears could undermine Ukraine's
economy, he and his civilian and military leaders also are preparing defenses,
soliciting and receiving a flow of arms from the U.S. and other NATO members.
military cargo aircraft carrying U.S.-made Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and
ammunition from NATO member Lithuania landed Sunday, bolstering the country¡¯s
defenses against any attack by air.
wore military olive drab at a drill with tanks and helicopters near Ukraine's
border with Russian-annexed Crimea this weekend. In the nearby city of Kalanchak,
some expressed disbelief that Putin would really send his troops rolling into
don¡¯t believe Russia will attack us," said resident Boris Cherepenko.
¡°I have friends in Sakhalin, in Krasnodar,¡± he said, naming Russian regions.
"I don¡¯t believe it.¡±
Kyiv, others expressed uncertainty whether any Russian move would be economic,
military, or happen at all. One woman, Alona Buznitskaya, speaking on a central
street of the capital bearing a few signs declaring, ¡°I love Ukraine,¡± said
she was calm.
should always be ready for everything, and then you will have nothing to be
afraid of,¡± she said.
U.S. largely has not made public the evidence it says is underlying its most
specific warnings on possible Russian planning or timing.
not going to give Russia the opportunity to conduct a surprise here, to spring
something on Ukraine or the world,¡± Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security
adviser, told CNN on Sunday, about the U.S. warnings.
are going to make sure that we are laying out for the world what we see as
transparently and plainly as we possibly can,¡± he said.
Russians have deployed missile, air, naval and special operations forces, as
well as supplies to sustain an invasion. This week, Russia moved six amphibious
assault ships into the Black Sea, augmenting its capability to land on the
denies any intention of attacking Ukraine. Russia is demanding that the West
keep former Soviet countries out of NATO. It also wants NATO to refrain from
deploying weapons near its border and to roll back alliance forces from Eastern
Europe ¡ª demands flatly rejected by the West.
and Putin spoke for more than an hour Saturday, but the White House offered no
suggestion that the call diminished the threat of an imminent war in Europe.
the West's concerns, Dutch airline KLM has canceled flights to Ukraine until
further notice, the company said. The Ukrainian charter airline SkyUp said
Sunday its flight from Madeira, Portugal, to Kyiv was diverted to the Moldovan
Ukraine¡¯s air traffic safety agency Ukraerorukh issued a statement declaring
the airspace over the Black Sea to be a ¡°zone of potential danger¡± and
recommended that planes avoid flying over the sea Feb. 14-19.
Putin-Biden conversation, following a call between Putin and French President
Emmanuel Macron earlier in the day, came at a critical moment for what has
become the biggest security crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold
War. U.S. officials believe they have mere days to prevent an invasion and
enormous bloodshed in Ukraine.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz will fly to Kyiv on Monday to meet with Zelenskyy and
Moscow on Tuesday to meet with Putin.
the U.S. and NATO have made clear they do not intend to send troops to Ukraine
to fight Russia, any invasion and resulting punishing sanctions promised by the
U.S. and other countries could reverberate far beyond the former Soviet
republic, affecting energy supplies, global markets and the power balance in
United States was pulling most of its staff from the embassy in Kyiv and urged
all American citizens to leave Ukraine immediately. Britain joined other
European nations in telling its citizens to leave.
has bolstered the U.S. military presence in Europe as reassurance to allies on
NATO¡¯s eastern flank. The 3,000 additional soldiers ordered to Poland come on
top of 1,700 who are on their way there. The U.S. Army also is shifting 1,000
soldiers from Germany to Romania, which like Poland shares a border with
and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter conflict since 2014, when Ukraine¡¯s
Kremlin-friendly leader was driven from office by a popular uprising. Moscow
responded by annexing the Crimean Peninsula and then backing a separatist
insurgency in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has killed over 14,000 people.
2015 peace deal brokered by France and Germany helped halt large-scale battles,
but regular skirmishes have continued, and efforts to reach a political
settlement have stalled.
For some of us, the best part of the Super Bowl is the bowl filled with guacamole. By one estimate, football fans eat their way through 105 million pounds of avocados during the big game, making it the biggest day of the year for these fatty, nutritious, and delicious fruits.
But Americans don¡¯t need the excuse of football to eat avocados. In the past decade, consumption has doubled as the nation demands more guac, more avocado toast, and more avocado smoothies.
Most of those avocados begin their journey in Mexico. The country is the world¡¯s top grower and exporter of the fruit, and the US is by far its largest customer. For every four avocados that Mexico exports, three are gobbled up in the US. It¡¯s perhaps for this reason that the marketing organization Avocados From Mexico was the first agriculture brand to pay millions of dollars for a Super Bowl commercial spot, back in 2015, according to the scholar Manuel Ochoa Ayala.
That nearly insatiable appetite comes at a cost. To meet surging demand in the US, farmers in Mexico have cut down swaths of forest in the western state of Michoac¨¢n, one of the most important ecosystems in the country. By some estimates, as many as 20,000 acres of forest ¡ª the area of more than 15,000
American football fields ¡ª are cut down each year and replaced with avocado plantations. The rapid expansion of orchards will threaten forests in Mexico for years to come, according to a study published this week.
That doesn¡¯t mean you should stop buying avocados altogether, experts say. Avocado farming in Mexico is a lifeline for a low-income part of the country, and simply boycotting the produce would likely do more harm than good.
There are ways to limit your impact on ecosystems when shopping for these fruits. And the true responsibility to improve the industry, experts say, falls on what could be called Big Avocado ¡ª the handful of major corporations that import and sell these beloved superfoods.
The emerging link between Mexican avocados and deforestation
As recently as a few decades ago, Mexican avocados were nowhere to be found in the US. Not in grocery stores. Not even in Mexican restaurants. For most of the 20th century, the US prohibited companies from importing them from Mexico because government officials feared that avocados might introduce insect pests into American orchards.