WARSAW — Two decades ago, when Poland rallied behind the United States in the contentious lead-up to the Iraq war, the president of France chided Warsaw, saying it had “missed a good opportunity to shut up.” Today, nobody — other than Russia — is telling Poland to keep quiet, at least not over the war in Ukraine. With President Biden making his second visit to Warsaw since the war began last February and the Polish capital gearing up to host a summit meeting on Wednesday of leaders from nine countries on NATO’s eastern flank, Poland has found its voice. “It is quite visible that the center of gravity has moved here to Poland and other countries in Central Europe,” the Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said Tuesday in an interview. Poland, which joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004, is delighted to be no longer talked down to as just another “new Eastern member” of the European bloc and the military alliance by veteran Western members like France and … [Read more...] about No One in Europe Is Telling Poland to ‘Shut Up’ Now
Blinken to Talk to Saudis About Normalizing Ties With Israel
The News Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said Monday that he planned to talk to Saudi leaders and other Gulf state officials this week during a visit to Saudi Arabia about the possibility of the kingdom normalizing ties with Israel. The Biden administration supports such a move, but it should not come at the expense of “progress between Israelis and Palestinians” and a two-state solution, he said. “The United States has a real national security interest in promoting normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia,” Mr. Blinken said at a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “We believe we can and indeed we must play an integral role in advancing it. Now, we have no illusions that this can be done quickly or easily.” Why It Matters: The three nations are floating ideas despite tensions. Mr. Blinken and other Biden aides are trying to grapple with politics in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States that would make normalization difficult. U.S. … [Read more...] about Blinken to Talk to Saudis About Normalizing Ties With Israel
Biden Administration Shrugs Off Ukraine’s Attacks in Russia
During the first year of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Biden administration fretted constantly that if Kyiv hit back inside Russian borders, President Vladimir V. Putin would retaliate against not only Ukraine, but also possibly NATO and the West. But those fears have ebbed. As Ukraine’s counteroffensive edges closer, a series of bold attacks in Russia, from a swarm of drone attacks in Moscow to the shelling of towns in the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine and an incursion into the country using American-made armored vehicles, have been greeted by the Biden administration with the diplomatic equivalent of a shrug. “It’s not like we’re going to go out and investigate this,” John F. Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman, said last week, in a reference to whether Ukraine or Ukrainian-backed groups were behind the attacks in Moscow. On Monday, fighters attacked at least 10 villages in the Belgorod region with heavy shelling, its governor said. Behind closed doors, senior … [Read more...] about Biden Administration Shrugs Off Ukraine’s Attacks in Russia
The Mystery of the Vanishing Kestrels: What’s Happening to This Flashy Falcon?
At first, people thought it might be a housing shortage. Scientists had noticed worrisome declines in the American kestrel, a small, flashy falcon found coast to coast. The downturn was especially puzzling because birds of prey in North America are largely considered a conservation bright spot. Take bald eagles, whose population in the contiguous United States has quadrupled since 2009 . Or red-tailed hawks, which sometimes nest in city buildings, dining on mice and rats. Turkey vultures are on the increase, too. “Why are all these other raptors doing great when the American kestrel is on the decline?” said Chris McClure, who directs global conservation science at the Peregrine Fund, a conservation group. Maybe the problem was a lack of nesting spots, some researchers thought, as intensive agriculture and ever more housing developments meant fewer dead trees in the open landscapes that kestrels need. Scientists and members of the public set out nest boxes, and kestrels moved … [Read more...] about The Mystery of the Vanishing Kestrels: What’s Happening to This Flashy Falcon?
As Assad’s Isolation Lifts, Syrian Refugees Fear Pressure to Return Home
Early one recent morning, Lebanese soldiers swept through the Bourj Hammoud neighborhood in Beirut, emptying two buildings of the Syrian refugees living in them. They forced them into trucks and drove them to a no-man’s land between the Lebanese and Syrian borders. After days stuck along the border, hundreds of refugees were taken by Syrian forces back to Syria. Among them was Rasha, a 34-year-old mother of three who fled the country in 2011. The family spent their first night back in Syria sleeping on the streets of the capital, Damascus. The next day, she said, she paid a smuggler to help them cross back into Lebanon. If the soldiers ever come back, Rasha vowed, she would die before being forced back to Syria again. “Even if they shoot me, I won’t go back,” she said after returning to her home in Beirut where her family, especially her 12-year-old son, is living in fear that the soldiers will return. “My son keeps waking up in the middle of the night screaming, ‘Mama, they’ve … [Read more...] about As Assad’s Isolation Lifts, Syrian Refugees Fear Pressure to Return Home
As Ukrainian Attacks Surge, U.S. Officials See Signs of Counteroffensive
Ukrainian forces have stepped up artillery strikes and ground assaults in a flurry of military activity that American officials suggested on Monday could signal that Kyiv’s long-planned counteroffensive against Russia had begun. The fighting, which began on Sunday, was raging along several points on the front line, but farther to the east of where many analysts had expected Ukraine’s counteroffensive to launch. Even if it has started in that eastern area, experts said, the battle would allow Kyiv’s troops to try to accomplish the same goal: Head south toward the Sea of Azov and cut off the land bridge connecting occupied Crimea to mainland Russia. The Russian Ministry of Defense said on Monday that a major Ukrainian operation had begun at five locations in the eastern Donetsk region and that it had repelled the assaults and inflicted casualties on Ukrainian forces. Moscow’s account could not be independently corroborated. Ukraine’s deputy minister of defense, Hanna Malyar, said … [Read more...] about As Ukrainian Attacks Surge, U.S. Officials See Signs of Counteroffensive