Morning Briefing: Europe Edition

Your Wednesday Briefing

More advanced weaponry for Ukraine.

ImageA tan-colored tank in a field filled with soil, with three other tanks in the background.
A U.S. M1 Abrams tank during a NATO exercise in Latvia in 2018.Credit...Ints Kalnins/Reuters

The Biden administration plans to send up to 50 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, U.S. officials said yesterday, in what would be a major step in arming Kyiv as it tries to seize back its territory from Russia. It could take years before those tanks reach Ukraine, but the announcement would clear the way for Germany and other countries to send their battle tanks.

The plan to send the Abrams tanks comes after a testy confrontation last week, during a NATO defense chiefs’ meeting, over the refusal by Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, to send Leopard tanks, which many military experts believe could be a decisive weapon in Ukrainian hands.

German officials have privately insisted that the country would send the tanks only if the U.S. agreed to send its own M1 Abrams tanks. Publicly, American and German officials have denied that the two issues were linked, but the German news media reported last night that Scholz had decided to send the tanks. The chancellor will address Parliament today.

In other news from the war: Several top Ukrainian officials were fired yesterday amid a ballooning corruption scandal, the biggest upheaval in the country’s government since Russia’s invasion began 11 months ago.

German soldiers at a community-relations event in Warendorf, Germany.Credit...Ingmar Björn Nolting for The New York Times

When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, German military planners began to consider the sudden possibility of a large land war in Europe — one that would require German soldiers to defend European territory. Those fears have grown more acute, resulting, last year, in the announcement of plans for the largest jump in German military spending since World War II.

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, skepticism of the merits of military strength had enabled a long post-Cold War process of disarmament in Germany. Now, German leaders are vowing to transform the country into a military power capable of taking responsibility for Europe’s security. But German society, in which the country’s Nazi past looms large, remains hesitant.

The fact that German soldiers have repeatedly been implicated in high-profile cases of right-wing extremism has not helped ease this discomfort. Russian propagandists were clearly trying to hit a nerve when they responded to Germany’s current plans by suggesting that the country was returning to Nazism.

Background: Every recent U.S. administration tried, and mostly failed, to get the Germans and other European allies to strengthen their militaries and meet the NATO defense-spending target of 2 percent of gross domestic product, a goal Germany has long undershot.

The site of one of the Half Moon Bay shootings, a mushroom farm.Credit...Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The death toll from two mass shootings in California in the last few days rose to at least 18 people. Those tragedies were only two in a series of shootings this month in a state that, overall, has some of the nation’s lowest mortality rates from gun violence, as well as some of its toughest gun laws.

In Northern California, a 66-year-old man was in custody after the shooting deaths of seven people on Monday. An eighth victim was hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Officials said the suspect, Zhao Chunli, was an employee at one of the locations of the shootings. And in Southern California, investigators continued their search for a motive in the massacre on Saturday night at a ballroom dancing venue in Monterey Park.

The cases, which bracketed celebration of the Lunar New Year, claimed the lives largely of immigrant victims: older Asian Americans at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, and Asian and Latino agricultural workers around Half Moon Bay. The suspects in those two shootings were immigrant Asian men in their 60s and 70s — a rare age bracket for assailants in mass shootings.

Context: Just over a week ago, in an attack that the authorities compared to a drug-cartel-style execution, six people were shot dead in rural central California. And on Monday night, one person was killed and seven people were wounded in a gun battle in Oakland.

Credit...Ben McKay/AAP, via Reuters
Credit...John Taggart for The New York Times
Credit...Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser, via Associated Press

At the world’s most elusive surfing event, the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, a local lifeguard, Luke Shepardson, beat out the top pro surfers for the trophy.

“I’ve got to get back to the tower,” Shepardson, who collected his prize in his uniform, said after a brief celebration. “I got to get back to the tower to make sure everyone is OK until the end of the day.”

Qatar is trying to buy into the Premier League: After the World Cup, the focus now for Qatar is on investing in Tottenham or Manchester United.

LIV Golf’s TV deal with The CW, explained: The Saudi-backed golf league’s agreement comes with plenty of geopolitical issues and ratings questions. Here’s what to make of the unusual pairing.

Gareth Bale to play in PGA Tour event: Bale, 33, will play next month at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California, just a month after his retirement from professional soccer.

From The Times: Mikaela Shiffrin made skiing history, securing the 83rd World Cup victory of her career, the most of any female skier in the history of the sport. At the Australian Open, Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul squared off in the first all-American Grand Slam quarterfinal in 16 years.

In a year when moviegoers returned en masse to big-budget spectacles — and skipped nearly everything else — Oscar voters yesterday spread nominations remarkably far and wide.

The sci-fi movie “Everything Everywhere All at Once” led with 11 total nominations, while some of its stars received acting nods. “The Banshees of Inisherin” and “All Quiet on the Western Front” were tied for second, with nine nominations each. The drama “Tár” received a best picture nod, and the blockbuster sequels “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” were also recognized in the category.

Here’s a full list of the nominees, the biggest snubs and surprises and our critics’ picks. The 95th Academy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on March 12.

Credit...Armando Rafael for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews. Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks.

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How to pack for a work trip.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Alphabet that gave us the word “alphabet” (five letters).

And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. My colleague David Dunlap explained how The Times keeps reporters safe when they cover deadly viruses.

The Daily” is on the classified documents found in President Biden’s home.

You can reach Natasha and the team at