Your Thursday Briefing

Waiting for humanitarian aid supplies in the city of Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine, on Wednesday.Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Could the war’s economic toll strain Western unity?

As the war in Ukraine settles into a prolonged conflict that may last years, it is testing the resolve of Western countries, with European and American officials questioning whether the rising economic toll will erode their solidarity over time. Follow the latest updates from the war.

What fissures have so far presented themselves are mostly superficial, including restiveness in Paris with the Biden administration’s military ambitions. And yet there are signs of solidarity: Finland and Sweden edged closer to joining NATO on Wednesday, with Britain offering security assurances to gird against the Russian threat.

Yet 76 days into the fighting, the cascading effect on supply chains and energy pipelines will only be felt more acutely at gas pumps and on supermarket shelves. Some analysts believe Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is calculating that the West will be first to tire of a long struggle for Ukraine’s contested Donbas region.

Warnings: The Biden administration’s director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, said yesterday that Putin was digging in for a long siege and “probably counting on U.S. and E.U. resolve to weaken as food shortages, inflation and energy shortages get worse.”

Embargo: E.U. talks over a proposed ban on Russian oil have broken off because of Hungary’s opposition. Viktor Orban, the Hungarian leader, argued that a ban on Russian oil would be the equivalent of an “atomic bomb” for the Hungarian economy.

From the trenches: Vicious close-range battles are playing out in eastern Ukraine. Times journalists report from the frontline.

Pro-Ukrainian demonstrators at the monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, Bulgaria.Credit…Nanna Heitmann for The New York Times

Bulgaria takes a stand against a former friend

Moscow long counted Bulgaria as its most ardent and reliable friend in Europe. But in recent weeks, the country has joined fellow members of the E.U. in imposing ever tougher economic sanctions on its former ally; offered to repair broken military helicopters and tanks for Ukraine; and expelled yet more Russian diplomats.

The rapid souring of relations with Bulgaria, a poor but symbolically important country because of its historically close ties to Russia, underscores how far off-script the invasion ordered by Putin has traveled. In response, Russia halted supplies of natural gas to Bulgaria by Gazprom last month.

Moscow has also launched cyberattacks, assaulting the server of Bulgaria’s state energy company and crippling pension payments by its Postal Service. “We are under severe attack at the moment,” said Kiril Petkov, the Bulgarian prime minister, describing this as a clear “attempt to derail our government” by stoking domestic unrest.

Quotable: “Traditionally, Russia has always had a big influence here, but we have been a big surprise to them,” Petkov said. “They don’t understand what happened.”

The Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who the network said was killed by Israeli army gunfire during a raid in the West Bank.Credit…Imad Creidi/Reuters

Journalist killed in the West Bank

Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist for Al Jazeera, was fatally shot while reporting in the West Bank city of Jenin early yesterday. The news network, citing the Palestinian Health Ministry, said she had been shot in the head by Israeli forces during a raid. A second journalist was hospitalized after being shot in the back, the ministry said.

A veteran journalist, Abu Akleh was a household name across the Middle East. At the time of her death, she was wearing a protective vest that identified her as a member of the media. Another journalist present, Shatha Hanaysha, said she believed that she and other journalists had been targeted. Israeli forces, she said, “did not stop firing even after she collapsed.”

In an evening briefing, Israel’s minister of defense, Benny Gantz, said it was unclear what had happened. “It can be Palestinians who shot her,” he said. “Tragically, it may be on our side. We are investigating it.”

Quotable: “Al Jazeera holds the Israeli government and the occupation forces responsible for the killing of Shireen,” the news network said in a statement. “It also calls on the international community to condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable.”

Journalists at risk: At least 27 media workers have been killed while working or for reasons relating to their journalistic activities since Jan. 1, including seven in Ukraine and eight in Mexico, according to the nonprofit Reporters Without Borders.


Around the World

Credit…Kim Won Jin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • North Korea reported its first outbreak of the coronavirus, declaring a “maximum emergency” and ordering a national lockdown to fight the spread.

  • The Hong Kong police arrested three activists, including a retired bishop and a pop star, for suspected violations of the city’s strict national security law.

  • Lufthansa Airlines apologized after passengers traveling from New York City to Hungary said they were barred from boarding a connecting flight because they were Jewish.

  • As a national campaign by right-wing groups inflames local tensions, Muslim communities in India are facing the harshest punishments.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times
  • Republicans blocked a Senate bill to protect abortion rights in the U.S. The vote was 51 opposed and 49 in favor, well short of the 60 votes needed for the measure to pass.

  • The families of victims killed in last year’s condominium collapse in Surfside, Fla., will receive a nearly $1 billion settlement.

  • U.S. deaths from drug overdoses again rose to record levels in 2021, topping 100,000 for the first time, according to the C.D.C.

What Else Is Happening

  • Bitcoin’s recent crash has mirrored that of tech stocks — a sign that it’s still more speculative investment than world-changing innovation.

  • The Guggenheim Museum in New York and the National Gallery in London are removing the Sackler family name from their walls.

A Morning Read

“The classic diet slogan that made such an impression on me as a chubby child — ‘Inside every fat person, there is a skinny person waiting to get out’ — should, in my case, be reversed,” writes Sam Anderson, pictured above in sixth grade, in this personal essay on weight loss from The Times Magazine.

“No matter what my body happens to look like at any particular moment, Fat Sam lives inside me. I recognize now, in fact, that Fat Sam represents some of my best qualities: curiosity, cheerful appetite, a hunger for life, satisfaction in the moment.”


Credit…Luca Bruno/Associated Press

Eurovision 2022, by the numbers

The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s largest live music event. It is also almost certainly the kitschiest. This year’s competition takes place this week in Turin, Italy, where nations are going head-to-head for the (non-monetary) glory of a win, as well as a trophy shaped like a 1950s microphone. Here’s what you need to know.

66: Years since the contest started in 1956. (It was initially a friendly competition between public service television broadcasters.)

40: Countries participating in this year’s contest. In an unusually political move, the organizers have barred Russia from competing “in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine.”

1974: Year in which Abba won the competition, with the song “Waterloo.”

183 million: Total viewers of last year’s contest.

Three: Maximum length in minutes for each song, according to the contest’s rules.

33,938: Population of the smallest country competing — San Marino, a landlocked enclave within Italy.

380: Points awarded to Italy’s winning contestant, the rock band Maneskin, last year.

2016: The last time Ukraine won, with the song “1944” by Jamala. The country, represented by the rap and folk band Kalush Orchestra, is this year’s favorite to win.


What to Cook

Credit…Craig Lee for The New York Times

There’s nothing fancy or complicated about this fettuccine Alfredo, but it is delicious and deeply satisfying.

What to Watch

Set in the Indian state of Bilhar, “The Village House” is a decades-spanning portrait of the director’s family, drawn from childhood memories.

What to Read

“The Netanyahus,” by Joshua Cohen, is “the best and most relevant novel I’ve read in what feels like forever,” our reviewer writes. It won this year’s Pulitzer for fiction.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Sticky parts of geckos (four letters).

And here’s 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. Marc Lacey, an incoming managing editor, sat down with The Cornell Daily Sun, his college paper.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on abortion providers in the U.S.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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