World

Your Wednesday Briefing: Sievierodonetsk, Isolated

Good morning. We’re covering Sievierodonetsk’s growing isolation, China’s mass Covid testing and South Asia’s climate change crisis.

The Ukrainian military in Lysychansk, which is next to Sievierodonetsk.Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Sievierodonetsk, isolated

The eastern city of Sievierodonetsk is now cut off from Ukrainian-controlled territory after the last bridge to the west was destroyed. The development could intensify a humanitarian crisis at a critical point in the brutal battle for the Donbas region: Hundreds of civilians are trapped in the city.

As the outlook for Ukraine’s eastern front grows grimmer, some European officials are raising concerns over whether President Volodymyr Zelensky has a viable strategy to win the war.

The West’s growing hesitation to supply more weapons is frustrating some Ukrainian leaders. “If you think we should lose, just tell us directly: ‘We want you to lose,’” a senior adviser to Zelensky said. Here are recent updates.

What’s next: Western officials will meet in Europe this week to discuss the shape of continued aid to Ukraine. A top Pentagon official said the U.S. would not press Ukraine to make peace against its will.

Tactics: Ukraine has been losing as many as 200 soldiers a day, fighting street by street to maximize Russian casualties. But a war of attrition favors Moscow’s larger military.

Fighting: Ukraine claims to have steadily regained territory in the south and said its forces were within 12 miles of the occupied city of Kherson.

Sports: A Russian court extended the pretrial detention of Brittney Griner, the W.N.B.A. basketball star, for another 18 days. And the U.S. Open will allow Russian and Belarusian tennis players to compete.


China is the last country that is trying to eliminate Covid. Credit…Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China’s mass Covid testing strategy

China, the last country trying to eliminate Covid, has made mass testing a permanent feature of daily life. In many major cities, even places without reported cases, residents must show negative P.C.R. tests in order to shop, ride public transit and participate in other activities.

Officials hope the regular mass testing will help isolate cases before they spiral into bigger outbreaks. But the policy could hamper efforts to revive China’s economy.

Better Understand the Russia-Ukraine War

  • History and Background: Here’s what to know about Russia and Ukraine’s relationship and the causes of the conflict.
  • How the Battle Is Unfolding: Russian and Ukrainian forces are using a bevy of weapons as a deadly war of attrition grinds on in eastern Ukraine.
  • Outside Pressures: Governments, sports organizations and businesses are taking steps to punish Russia. Here are some of the sanctions adopted so far and a list of companies that have pulled out of the country.
  • Stay Updated: To receive the latest updates on the war in your inbox, sign up here. The Times has also launched a Telegram channel to make its journalism more accessible around the world.

Workers say the time required to get tested is cutting into their pay. Local governments are taking money from poverty alleviation projects to pay for testing. Businesses are concerned that the requirement will hurt productivity, and economists worry people will stay home to avoid the bother.

Response: Barely two weeks after Shanghai lifted its two-month lockdown, the authorities placed millions of people under new lockdowns, setting off scattered protests. The city has said that it will start charging residents for tests in August.


Hifjur Rehman, 40, a third-generation Indian farmer, collapsed in a paddy field destroyed by floods.

South Asia faces climate change

South Asia is home to millions of the world’s most vulnerable people. Climate change is making their hard lives even harder, as weather extremes are increasingly become the norm and make it more difficult to address poverty, food insecurity and health challenges.

Pakistan has fought enormous forest fires. In Bangladesh, millions of people were stranded by floods that came before monsoons. Nepalese officials are trying to drain about-to-burst glacial lakes before they wash away Himalayan villages, which face a shortage of drinking water.

And in India, the region’s biggest grain supplier, farmers have faced unseasonably heavy rains and equally unseasonable heat. The weather has devastated farmers, many of whom are saddled with enormous debt and are dying by suicide in growing numbers. It has also threatened national and global food security.

Details: India’s wheat harvest was down at least 3.5 percent this year, based on initial information. Some districts in Punjab, traditionally India’s wheat basket, experienced a 30 percent decline. March was the hottest month in India and Pakistan in 122 years of record-keeping, while rainfall was 60 to 70 percent below the norm, scientists say.

Health: A new study found that air pollution in New Delhi cut life expectancy there by nearly 10 years, Al Jazeera reported. And researchers are drilling down on the ways that extreme heat sickens and kills people.

THE LATEST NEWS

Asia News

Theary Seng, a convicted Cambodian American lawyer, has worn a series of extravagant costumes as a form of nonverbal protest.Credit…Samuel/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • Cambodia sentenced dozens of critics and opposition politicians to prison after convicting them of conspiracy to commit treason.

  • South Korean truckers ended their strike after reaching a tentative agreement on minimum wage levels, Reuters reported.

  • A Chinese employee at Bloomberg News was released on bail in January, more than a year after plainclothes security officials detained her.

Asia Pacific Culture

  • The South Korean boy band BTS is taking a break to work on individual projects.

  • The broadcasting rights to Indian cricket sold for a record $6.2 billion, fortifying the league’s place as one of the most valuable sports properties.

  • The Sydney Morning Herald denied outing Rebel Wilson, the Australian actress and comedian, in a since-deleted column about her new relationship.

  • After a reality television star died by suicide after experiencing abuse on social media, Japan’s Parliament made “online insults” an offense punishable with prison, CNN reported.

World News

  • Stocks on Wall Street were lower yesterday but far calmer than Monday, when the S&P 500 fell into a bear market. Here are recent updates.

  • A Zimbabwe court convicted a freelance Times reporter in a case seen as part of a wider assault on press freedoms.

  • Increasing numbers of girls in Sierra Leone are resisting genital cutting, defying their relatives and risking societal stigma.

  • Canada and Denmark settled a 49-year-old, often whimsical tit-for-tat over who owns a desolate Arctic island.

What Else Is Happening

  • The F.D.A. approved an alopecia drug that can restore hair growth.

  • Some travelers fear they will contract the coronavirus on long flights now that the C.D.C. has lifted the testing requirement for people entering the U.S.

  • Serena Williams plans to play at Wimbledon. She hasn’t competed since she was injured during the first round of the tournament last year.

  • Lizzo changed a lyric in her new song “Grrrls” to remove a derogatory term for people with a form of cerebral palsy. Her fans forgave her.

A Morning Read

Happy at the Bronx Zoo in 2018.Credit…Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

New York’s highest court ruled 5 to 2 that Happy, an Asian elephant at the Bronx Zoo, is not a person in a legal sense.

The case involved deep ethical questions about whether the legal principle of habeas corpus — which people assert to contest illegal confinement — should be extended to highly intelligent animals.

ARTS AND IDEAS

The essential Korean recipes

Eric Kim has spent a lifetime watching his mother cook.

When he was little, Eric writes, he was “a little shadow following her around our suburban Atlanta kitchen, tasting her kimchi for sugar and salt; helping her pick and wash perilla leaves from the garden for a family dinner of ssam; or, later in life, sitting at the kitchen island watching her crush gim, that glorious roasted seaweed, over a homecoming plate of kimchi fried rice.”

Now, Eric lives in New York City. He is a cookbook author and a columnist for The Times Magazine. But his mother, Jean, is ever-present in his cooking. “The way I cook now, the way I move and breathe in my New York City kitchen, has echoes of her movements, her breaths.”

Eric has developed recipes that define Korean cuisine for him. “If I could have only 10 Korean dishes for the rest of my life, these would be the ones,” he writes. Enjoy.

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook

Credit…Chris Simpson for The New York Times

You only need 15 minutes for this zucchini dish, which includes chickpeas and peanuts.

What to Read

“Grand Hotel Europa,” a novel originally published in Dutch, is a comedy of manners about what tourism has done to Europe.

World Through a Lens

Spend some time in Montana’s oldest continually open general store.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Origami design (five letters).

Here are today’s Wordle and today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.


That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. Try Chess Replay, a new puzzle from Times Games with commentary from the grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the U.S. gun safety deal.

You can reach Amelia and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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