Your Thursday Briefing
Ukrainian soldiers atop an armored vehicle near Sievierodonetsk.Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times
Ukrainian losses mount in the east
Russian troops edged closer to seizing control of the center of Sievierodonetsk, the last major city in the eastern province of Luhansk still in Ukrainian hands.
A local official said Russian forces held about 70 percent of the city, but the fighting continues to rage. Only about 12,000 residents remain in Sievierodonetsk, where about 100,000 people once lived. Here are live updates and photos from the front.
This week, President Volodymyr Zelensky said 60 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers were dying each day, with 500 more wounded in combat. As soldiers and civilians alike lose limbs to Russian strikes, Ukraine is expanding its prosthetics industry. Step by step, its army has fallen back from some long-held areas in Donbas, the eastern region that is now the war’s epicenter.
Weapons: The U.S. will send Ukraine powerful rocket systems that greatly extend its range, provided Ukraine doesn’t fire into Russian territory. Overcoming reluctance, Germany promised Ukraine an advanced air-defense system and a tracking radar to locate Russia’s heavy artillery.
Aid: The E.U. unfroze 36 billion euros — about $38 billion — earmarked for coronavirus relief in Poland. The E.U. had blocked the payment over questions about the independence of the Polish courts, but warmed after Poland took a forceful stance against the invasion of Ukraine.
Dmitri Muratov, the Russian journalist, will auction off his Nobel Peace Prize medal to raise money for child refugees from Ukraine.
European leaders are trying to get grain out of Ukraine amid warnings of a global food crisis.
A U.S. task force is looking into businessmen who help wealthy Russians buy superyachts and villas.
Ukraine’s soccer team defeated Scotland’s, moving one step closer to the World Cup.
A dangerous new nuclear age
The world is now contending with a new, riskier nuclear era, after three months of regular reminders from Russia that it has atomic weapons.
On Tuesday, Moscow’s bluster was enough to draw a pointed warning from President Biden in a guest essay for The Times: “Let me be clear: Any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict on any scale would be completely unacceptable to us as well as the rest of the world and would entail severe consequences.”
Although officials said those consequences would almost certainly be nonnuclear, Biden’s statement was a tacit acknowledgment that a second nuclear age, full of new dangers and uncertainties, is approaching. The risks extend well beyond Russia and include moves by China, North Korea and Iran.
Background: The old nuclear order, rooted in the Cold War’s unthinkable outcomes, was fraying well before Russia invaded Ukraine. During the Trump administration, the U.S. and Russia pulled out of arms treaties that had constrained their arsenals.
A verdict in the Depp-Heard case
A jury found that Johnny Depp was defamed by Amber Heard, his ex-wife, when she described herself in an op-ed as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” The jury also found that she had been defamed by one of his lawyers.
The jury awarded Depp $15 million in compensatory and punitive damages, but the judge capped the punitive damages in accordance with legal limits, resulting in a total of $10.35 million. The jury awarded Heard $2 million in damages.
The decision followed a six-week trial that transfixed the U.S. Millions watched it on television or streamed it online as the two Hollywood stars made charges and countercharges of physical abuse against each other in court, sometimes in lurid detail.
Analysis: It was one of the highest-profile civil cases of the #MeToo era to go to trial. Heard testified that Depp sexually assaulted her and engaged in a “pattern” of violence. In 2020, a British judge found that Depp had assaulted her and put her “in fear for her life.”
THE LATEST NEWS
Sheryl Sandberg is stepping down from Meta, Facebook’s parent company.
Amid a worsening national shortage, the U.S. will airlift baby formula from Europe.
Israel will move its blood bank underground to protect it from rocket attacks.
After eight weeks of lockdown, Shanghai reopened (mostly), to delight and some trepidation.
Most people in South Africa have antibodies, but the country is still confronting a wave of new infections.
What Else Is Happening
A teacher killed in the Texas school shooting called her husband and spoke to him before she died. The revelation could add to criticism of the police’s slow response.
A gunman killed four people in an attack on a medical building in Oklahoma, before apparently killing himself. Here are the details.
China is far outpacing the U.S. in the competition for strategic influence in the Pacific, our Sydney bureau chief writes in an analysis.
Researchers managed to tame pancreatic cancer by reprogramming a patient’s T cells, an experimental step that could have broad implications.
A Morning Read
An Indian climber was accused of faking an ascent of Mount Everest in 2016. Now there’s no question: Yesterday, after a heavily documented climb to the summit, he received a certificate from the Nepalese authorities attesting to his achievement.
Russia-Ukraine War: Key Developments
Military aid. The United States said it will send Ukraine advanced rockets as part of a new $700 million aid package, while Germany promised a modern air-defense system. The buttressing of Ukraine’s weaponry underscores Western resolve to hobble Russia’s war effort at a critical time.
On the ground. Russian troops have stormed the city of Sievierodonetsk in Ukraine’s east and converged in the city center, according to a local official. The fall of Sievierodonetsk would give President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces the last major city in the Luhansk province still in Ukrainian hands.
Russian oil embargo. European Union members finally reached an agreement on a Russian oil embargo and new sanctions against Russia. The long-delayed deal effectively exempts Hungary, which had opposed the embargo, from the costly step the rest of the bloc is taking to punish Russia.
Grain exports. Following the agreement, European leaders are now focusing on ways to prop up Ukraine’s economy, including exploring several options to confront a Russian blockade of much-needed Ukrainian grain amid warnings of a global food crisis.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Hi, hello, allinllachu
One of the most widely spoken Indigenous languages, Quechua, is now on Google Translate, along with 23 other, mostly oral languages. (Allinllachu, as you may have guessed, is how you’d say “hello” in Quechua.)
Collectively, the languages are spoken by 300 million people. Some have much larger numbers of speakers than European languages like Swedish, Finnish or Catalan, which have been on the translation tool for years.
The move represents a leap forward in its machine-learning system: Until recently, Google Translate needed to see translations of an unknown language. Now, the tool has so much experience that it just needs text in an unknown language to master it.
The move has practical benefits: Doctors could use it to have more nuanced conversations with patients about their ailments. But is also a philosophical vindication of the importance of many languages used almost exclusively in long-marginalized minority groups.
“It’s like saying to the world, ‘Look, here we are!’” said Irma Alvarez Ccoscco, a poet, teacher and digital activist, who has been making the case for Quechua for years.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, READ
What to Cook
Fresh basil brightens this simple tomato salad.
What to Read
Here are eight newly published books, covering topics from South Asian art to the discontents of modern life to the work of Sofia Coppola.
What to Listen to
“Teeth Marks,” the second album from S.G. Goodman, is steeped in sounds of the American South. It drops tomorrow.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Not me” (5 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. — Amelia
P.S. Dodai Stewart will return to our Metro desk as a writer at large.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on grief after the Texas school shooting.
You can reach Amelia and the team at [email protected].