Your Tuesday Briefing: Documenting Russia’s Terror Campaign

We’re covering Russia’s campaign of terror in Bucha and the easing of Covid restrictions in South Korea.

Body bags lay on the grass of a cemetery in Bucha, Ukraine.Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

A month of terror in Bucha

A mother killed by a sniper while walking with her family to fetch a thermos of tea. A woman held as a sex slave, naked except for a fur coat and locked in a potato cellar before being executed. Two sisters dead in their home, their bodies left slumped on the floor for weeks.

These are the scenes documented by Times reporters and photographers who spent more than a week in Bucha, the city on Kyiv’s outskirts that was occupied by advancing Russian troops for a month.

The war, now in its seventh week, is set to escalate in the east. President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that “tens of thousands” of Russian troops were poised for a major assault in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine.

The Pentagon confirmed that Russia was sending hundreds of military vehicles, including infantry and combat helicopter support units, and artillery to eastern Ukraine.

Deadly strike: Officials in the eastern city of Kramatorsk updated the death toll from a Russian missile strike on a crowded train station to at least 57 people, with another 109 wounded. Those who remain in Kramatorsk have started preparing for a siege.

U.S. assistance: The Biden administration is debating how much the U.S. can or should assist an international investigation into war crimes in Ukraine. The government may be hamstrung by laws aimed at barring the International Criminal Court from charging Americans.

Military equipment given by Japan to Ukraine being loaded in an aircraft at Yokota Air Base, Japan, last month.Credit…Toshiyuki Inaba/Kyodo News, via Associated Press

Japan begins to shed its pacifist constraints

When Japan agreed this year to send shipments of military equipment to Ukraine, it broke a 75-year streak of avoiding such conflicts. It was a decisive step away from the pacifist ideology that has been central to the country since the end of World War II.

Japan has moved against Russia largely in lock step with the U.S. and Europe, and it is also pushing to build its own deterrent power rather than relying on its alliance with the U.S. Japanese lawmakers are now calling for increases in the country’s defense budget, and the debate is intensifying over whether Japan should acquire weapons capable of striking missile launch sites in enemy territory.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the leader of a dovish wing of the governing party, said last week that it was important to “thoroughly enhance defense with a sense of speed,” a major departure from his previous focus on taming the coronavirus pandemic and reforming economic policy.

Threats: Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido, sits just 25 miles from Russia. A territorial dispute over four islands has prevented Japan and Russia from signing a peace treaty. But perhaps Japan’s two biggest sources of anxiety are China, which it worries will use force to take control in Taiwan, and North Korea, which has tested several missiles near Japanese waters.

South Korea’s health ministry reported the lowest new daily coronavirus cases in nearly two months.Credit…Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea eases Covid restrictions

Coronavirus cases in South Korea have dropped substantially over the past week, and health officials there are beginning to reopen the country.

With 90,928 new cases reported yesterday, the fewest in nearly two months, South Korean testing centers will no longer offer free rapid tests to the general public and will administer P.C.R. exams only to those in high-risk groups. The country’s health authorities are planning to soon lift most restrictions, while still making masks mandatory indoors.

The decrease in cases and easing of restrictions falls in line with the trend in many other Asian countries, with the notable exception of China. Shanghai and more than a dozen other cities in China are under full or partial lockdowns to tackle Omicron-related spikes. The lockdowns are exposing a growing social and economic cost of the zero-Covid strategy.

In other pandemic news:

  • The U.S. is experiencing an uptick in coronavirus cases, especially in the Northeast. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the increase was concerning but not yet cause for alarm.

  • Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, tested positive for the coronavirus.



  • The Pakistani opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif was named the country’s interim prime minister after the ouster of Imran Khan.

  • A 20-year-old pitcher, Roki Sasaki, pitched the first perfect game in Japanese professional baseball in 28 years.

Around the World

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in 2017.Credit…Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
  • Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince, despite objections from the fund’s advisers about the merits of the deal.

  • President Emmanuel Macron attacked the views of his opponent, Marine Le Pen, as extremist as the runoff campaign for the French presidency kicked off.

  • Britain’s fish-and-chip shops are struggling as the war in Ukraine has made the meal’s main ingredients scarcer and more expensive. Of 10,000 shops, 3,000 may close.

  • Mexicans voted overwhelmingly in support of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in a nationwide recall. But the referendum failed to achieve the required 40 percent threshold to be binding.

  • Elon Musk, the world’s wealthiest man and the biggest shareholder of Twitter, will no longer join the social media company’s board of directors.

A Morning Read

Dr. Elizabeth Allieu, right, consulting with a patient in February.Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Just four years ago, a hospital in Sierra Leone, the Kissy Lunatic Asylum, kept psychiatric patients in chains. Today, it has medication, therapy and attentive care — part of a revolution to build a mental health care system from scratch in one of the poorest countries in the world.


Bioluminescence at Big Manly Beach, New Zealand, in January.Credit…Grant Birley

Capturing bioluminescence

On hot, moonless nights in New Zealand, a collection of photographers spread out across the beaches, wading knee-deep in the surf, hoping to photograph glowing waves.

Bioluminescence, a natural phenomenon in which glowing algae give crashing waves an ethereal, electric blue aura, is difficult to capture. But with some technical skill and a bit of luck, enthusiasts say that New Zealand is an especially good place to “chase bio.”

While relatively common deep in the ocean, the behavioral motivations of bioluminescent organisms — such as fireflies and anglerfish — are still something of a mystery. The most popular explanation for why algae glow in the oceans is the “burglar alarm” hypothesis, which suggests that the organisms create light by chemical reactions inside their bodies when big fish swim by in order to scare off smaller fish that eat algae.


What to Cook

Credit…Dane Tashima for The New York Times

This eggplant Parmesan pasta captures all the flavor of the traditional eggplant Parmigiana without the fuss.

What to Read

Liana Finck’s new graphic novel “Let There Be Light” recasts the story of Genesis with God as a neurotic artist.


If you’re willing to be creative, a set of elastic bands can be as effective as a gym full of weights.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: animal attraction (three letters).

Here’s today’s Wordle.

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Tell us about your experience with the newsletter in this short survey. Thank you! — Matthew

P.S. Lydia Polgreen is joining The Times as an Opinion columnist.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the first union victory at Amazon.

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

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