The Atlantic Daily: The Nightmare Scenario Looming in Ukraine—And Beyond

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine could soon test the international order.

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Russia and Ukraine remain on the edge of conflict; opposing forces are reportedly facing each other from just 50 yards apart. The standoff threatens to engulf the international community at a precarious moment, our contributing writer Thomas Wright argues.

“This crisis is not just about the Minsk agreements or the dispute between Russia and Ukraine,” he explains. “It is about whether we are poised to see a dramatic escalation in military confrontation among the major powers that will shake the international order to its foundation.”

  • The diplomatic tool kit is rusty. “The tactics”— such as sanctions—“that used to work no longer do,” Anne Applebaum writes in our November cover story on how autocrats such as Vladimir Putin are charting the world’s future.
  • And diplomacy alone can’t save democracy. Our staff writer Yasmeen Serhan highlights the limits of think-tank-style summits like the one held by President Joe Biden last week, and the weakness of America’s own commitment to democracy, writing, “Democratization begins at home.”
  • Meanwhile, China is promoting a new world order. “The American monopoly on rule writing is now facing its stiffest challenge since the fall of the Soviet Union,” Michael Schuman argues.

The news in three sentences:

(1) The United States surpassed 800,000 confirmed COVID deaths. (2) Seventy-four people are dead in Kentucky and more than 100 are still missing after tornadoes in the region. (3) Victims of Larry Nassar reached a $380 million settlement with USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Today’s Atlantic-approved activity:

The pillow you breathed against, / the scent of your hair against it. Read Cara Dees’s poem “What You Missed.”

A break from the news:

This one will make your teeth clench: Dentistry isn’t as scientific as you think, Ferris Jabr warned in 2019.


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.