Your Wednesday Briefing

Ukrainian soldiers, who had held out for weeks at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, were evacuated on Tuesday.Credit…Alexei Alexandrov/Associated Press

An uncertain fate for Ukrainian holdouts in Mariupol

Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers from the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol who had made a last stand against Russian forces are now in the Kremlin’s custody and have been transported to Russian-held territory after Ukraine’s military ordered them to surrender. Russian officials have raised the prospect that at least some may be treated as war criminals. Follow the latest updates from the war.

News of Ukraine’s surrender order to its fighters, widely viewed domestically as heroes who have stared down deprivation and doom, was greeted with anxiety in the country, where antipathy toward Russia has only deepened since the war. Many expressed fears that the last defenders of Mariupol would suffer as prisoners of Russia.

The surrender at Mariupol, a once-thriving southeast port now largely reduced to ruin, is one of Russia’s few significant territorial achievements in its nearly three-month invasion of Ukraine. Both sides acknowledge that talks have essentially collapsed.

First person: “I am waiting for news and praying,” said Natalia Zarytska, part of a delegation of wives and mothers of men who had been in Azovstal.

Analysis: Russia spent years overhauling its military. The invasion shows how the effort failed.

In other news from the invasion:

  • About 10,000 residents have returned to Bucha, where Russian forces slaughtered civilians and wrought destruction in the streets.

  • Russia began targeting the region around the northeastern city of Sumy for the first time in weeks.

A market in Cameroon, where food inflation is causing hardship.Credit…Tom Saater for The New York Times

An economic catastrophe fueled by inflation and debt

Billions of people in poorer countries face a major economic crisis as the consequences of Russia’s assault on Ukraine are compounded by other challenges, including the pandemic, a global tightening of credit and a slowdown in China, the second-largest economy after that of the U.S.

The most direct repercussions can be seen in the rising prices of cooking fuel, fertilizer and staple foods like wheat. “It’s like wildfires in all directions,” said Jayati Ghosh, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “This is much bigger than after the global financial crisis. Everything is stacked against the low- and middle-income countries.”

Sanctions imposed on Russia, a major oil and gas exporter, have constrained the supply of energy, sending prices skyward and limiting global economic growth, now estimated at 3.6 percent this year compared with 6.1 percent last year. Poorer countries must choose between increasing spending to aid their populations while adding debt, or imposing budget austerity and courting social conflict.

Food shortages: More than 14 million people are on the brink of starvation in the Horn of Africa, according to the International Rescue Committee — the result of a drought combined with the pandemic and shortfalls of grains from Russia and Ukraine.

Pandemic: Covid-19 continues to assail health systems, depleting government resources and leading central banks to raise interest rates to choke off inflation. That is prompting investors to abandon lower-income countries, moving funds into less risky assets in wealthy economies.

Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, at the weekly cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London on Tuesday.Credit…Pool photo by Henry Nicholls

A move to abandon the Northern Ireland protocol

Britain may scrap some of the rules that govern trade with Northern Ireland, a move that would set it on a collision course with the E.U., 18 months after a trade deal that was meant to douse the last fires of Brexit. Liz Truss, the British foreign secretary, said the protocol had disrupted trade between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.

The announcement drew a sharp retort from the E.U., which said that if Britain went ahead with its plans, it would respond “with all measures at its disposal” — potentially including imposing tariffs on British goods shipped across the English Channel. “Unilateral actions contradicting an international agreement are not acceptable,” said Maros Sefcovic, vice president of the European Commission.

The Northern Ireland protocol is fiercely opposed by unionist parties that favor keeping Northern Ireland as part of the U.K. and that have complained the rules drive a wedge between the North and mainland Britain. The British government accuses the E.U. of being overly rigid in the way it applies border checks.

Details: Under legislation outlined yesterday by Truss, the British government could discard regulations including border checks on goods shipped from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland. She suggested that negotiations with the E.U. could help resolve the desire for change.

Catch-up: What is the protocol, why doesn’t Britain like it, and what is at stake? Here’s what you need to know.


Around the World

Credit…Pool photo by Jacob King
  • An ever-declining number of Canadians wants to swear allegiance to another British monarch after Queen Elizabeth II, polls show. But there is little motivation to make a change.

  • Hezbollah has lost its majority in Lebanon after voters opted for independent candidates in parliamentary elections.

  • Spain is considering paid medical leave for women who suffer from severe period pain.

Other Big Stories

  • President Biden yesterday called on Americans to “take on the haters” and “reject the lie” of racial replacement, days after a racist massacre in Buffalo, N.Y.

  • A Pentagon investigation into an airstrike in Syria in 2019 that killed dozens of people, including women and children, found no wrongdoing.

  • Elon Musk says his $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter “cannot move forward” without more information about spam and fake accounts on the platform.

What Else Is Happening

Credit…Dina Litovsky for The New York Times
  • The Metropolitan Opera’s revival of “La Bohème” has a new star: a celebrity donkey called Wanda.

  • In a rare public hearing on U.F.O.s, Pentagon officials revealed video of an unidentified craft flying past a fighter jet.

  • New research on sudden infant death syndrome found that some higher-risk babies had low levels of an enzyme called butyrylcholinesterase.

  • A molar found in a cave in Laos shows where the archaic humans Denisovans could have interbred with the ancestors of modern humans.

A Morning Read

Credit…Calla Kessler for The New York Times

How a water bottle made famous on social media conquered feeds everywhere, one pale millennial shade at a time.

Lives Lived

Urvashi Vaid, a lawyer and activist, was a leading figure in the fight for L.G.B.T.Q. equality over more than four decades. She died at 63.


Credit…Daniel Krieger for The New York Times

Get your jacket: Dining dress codes are back

At Les Trois Chevaux, a French restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, jeans, shorts and sneakers are out. And don’t even think about wearing flip-flops. “At Les Trois Chevaux, we revere the style and finesse that can only be attributed to having New York swagger,” reads a pre-dinner text sent to the restaurant’s diners.

During a pandemic in which many Americans traded “hard pants” for leisure wear, dress codes are making an unexpected return to the dining room. Several new restaurants now require a certain standard of attire, by turn stern (“upscale fashionable dress code strongly enforced,” warns one) or vague (“smart casual or better,” advises another).

Whatever the particulars, the calculation is the same: a belief that many diners are eager to dress up again. And if it seems exclusionary, well, that’s sort of the point. “Dress signifies a lot of highly contested issues: gender identity and gender roles, race, class, status,” said Richard Thompson Ford, an expert on dress codes at Stanford Law School.

Besides, in the words of Jack Donaghy, a fictional executive on the sitcom “30 Rock,” you don’t need plans to wear a tuxedo: “It’s after 6. What am I, a farmer?”


What to Cook

Credit…Bryan Gardner for The New York Times

With an abundance of leaves atop this salad-y pizza, fold the pieces in half to eat, or simply embrace the mess.

Ask Well

Can a night owl become an early bird? Here’s how to shift your sleep cycle.

What to Listen to

“For the Birds” is a 242-song set of compositions based on avian Twitter: elegies and aubades, fiddle tunes and even a radiant electronic trance.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Also, FYI …” (three 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. The Times covered the first same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize them, on the front page 18 years ago today.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on abortion in Mexico.

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

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