That’s What Xi Said

The world is preoccupied with Putin’s murderous attack on Ukraine. But American officials are even more focused on the broader implications the incursion has on our relationship with the real other superpower, China. Both topics were discussed during a nearly two-hour call between Biden and Xi. According to a readout, Xi said, “Conflict and confrontation are not in anyone’s interest,” and that the Ukraine crisis was “not something we want to see.” Now we’ll see if those words are backed up or if China backs Putin with financial support and/or weapons. AP: In video call, Biden presses China’s Xi on Russia support.

+ Biden’s call with Xi Jinping has ended. Here are 5 reasons it could prove critical.

+ When in doubt, hold a rally and lie your ass off. A familiar strategy. Putin hails Crimea annexation and war with lessons on heroism. “I spoke to dozens of people queueing to enter the venue for the pro-Kremlin rally. Many told the BBC they worked in the public sector, and that they had been pressured into attending by their employers.”

+ “When he ended his speech, his last chance to extract help from the U.S., he returned to a familiar theme: mortality. ‘Now I’m almost 45 years old. Today, my age stopped when the hearts of more than 100 children stopped beating. I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths.’ By calling attention to his own age, however inadvertently, he was offering a final contrast to the politicians on the other end of the screen, the world’s most powerful gerontocracy. Resigned to his own death, he has become the mythical leader who has placed his people’s interests ahead of his own.” Franklin Foer in The Atlantic: Volodymyr Zelensky’s Dream Life. (Let’s hope it’s a long life, too.)

+ Dance with the Devil: Russian star ballerina Olga Smirnova quits Bolshoi Ballet in protest. Ukrainian ballet star Artem Datsyshyn dies after Russian shelling.

+ McDonald’s has a replacement in Russia – with a strangely familiar logo.

+ “Thousands of tourists from both sides found themselves marooned together, unable to get home and unable to avoid one another at the breakfast buffet. The days have been thick with tension, aggression and fear, along with the occasional moment of compassion.” NYT (Gift Article): War Strands Ukrainian and Russian Tourists Together in Egyptian Resorts.

+ 130 people have been rescued from bombed Mariupol theater, but hundreds still under the rubble, Russia goes after Lviv, near the Polish border, Putin lays out his demands. Here’s the latest from BBC.

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