Your Friday Briefing

The Moskva sank. Ukraine said it had attacked the ship with missiles. Russia said a fire had broken out.Credit…Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters

Major setbacks for Russia

Russia’s faltering war against Ukraine met further obstacles yesterday when the flagship of its Black Sea fleet sank after a catastrophic explosion and fire, and the E.U. moved closer to an embargo on Russian oil imports. Follow the latest updates from the war.

Ukraine claimed to have struck the vessel, the guided missile cruiser Moskva, with two Neptune missiles. Russia attributed the blast to ammunition aboard the ship. If confirmed, the missile attack would be a serious blow both militarily and symbolically — proof that Russia’s ships can no longer operate with impunity — and another hit to morale.

Moscow also faces the possible loss of European markets in fossil fuels. E.U. officials revealed yesterday that an oil embargo was in the works, on top of a previously announced ban on imports of Russian coal. The steps are bound to raise fuel and electricity prices in Europe.

In other news:

  • Russia has tightened its grip on Mariupol after a siege lasting more than 40 days.

  • Marine Le Pen, the French far-right candidate for the presidency, said that France would quit NATO’s integrated military command and seek a closer alliance with Russia if she were elected.

  • The Ukraine crisis could tip more than one-fifth of humanity “into poverty, destitution and hunger,” the U.N. said.

  • First person: “The hardest aspect of covering the war in Ukraine and its spillover effect across the region,” writes The Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman, is “how to integrate the past with the present.”

Elon Musk spoke at TED2022 in Vancouver yesterday.Credit…Ryan Lash/Agence France-Presse, via Ted Conferences

Elon Musk’s bid for Twitter

Weeks after Elon Musk revealed that he had bought 9 percent of Twitter, the Tesla billionaire has made an unsolicited bid to purchase the company outright. The offer, which may exceed $40 billion, could have a big impact on political discourse: Musk strongly supports unfettered free speech and has bristled when Twitter has moderated users.

In a statement, Twitter said it would “carefully review the proposal.” But after a board meeting spanning several hours, its executives and directors seemed ready for a fight. They appeared to be marshaling investors against Musk’s plans and signaled that he would have to spend billions more if he wanted to own the company.

Twitter is also considering a corporate defense tactic of imposing a so-called poison pill, a maneuver intended to ward off an unwanted takeover offer by making the target’s shares more expensive, according to people familiar with the matter. Musk has provided few details about how he would pay for the company.

Plans: Musk said that if he succeeded in acquiring Twitter, he intended to relax the company’s moderation policies and make public its algorithm for ranking content, which controls what people see in their Twitter feeds. Conservatives celebrated his offer.

On Tech: Musk is a digital Citizen Kane, argues The Times columnist Shira Ovide in the latest edition of her newsletter.

Asylum seekers protested their conditions last year outside the hotel where they were being housed in London.Credit…Justin Tallis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Britain plans to send refugees to Rwanda

The British government announced a plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing and resettlement, drawing immediate condemnation from human rights groups and opposition leaders. Such legislation makes the country one of the few major powers seeking to turn away migrants without even considering their cases.

Rwanda — which has historically been criticized for its human rights record — said it would receive about $157 million, or 120 million pounds, as part of the deal. It will offer the asylum seekers the option of seeking resettlement to countries other than Britain, returning home or to a previous country of asylum, or staying in Rwanda.

The policy would take to a new level the hard-line immigration stance of the Conservative government led by Boris Johnson, the British prime minister. Its implementation depends on the passage of a law under consideration that could criminalize anyone entering the country without a valid visa. The plan will most likely face legal challenges, Johnson said.

Context: Very few other countries have tried similar tactics to deter migrants. Australia has faced criticism for its use of asylum processing centers on Pacific islands such as Nauru.

Calls for a reset: Over the past few years, there has been a sharp rise in criticism of France across its former colonies in Africa, rooted in a feeling that colonialist practices and attitudes never really ended. Nearly half of the continent’s countries were at one time French colonies or protectorates.


Virus News

Credit…Department for Health and Social Care, Public Health England, Public Health Scotland, Public Health Wales, Public Health Agency of Northern Ireland and the Chief Medical Officer Directorate; The New York Times
  • Many health professionals and patients have tested positive for the coronavirus in England, exacerbating a backlog of more than six million people awaiting treatment for other conditions.

  • Pfizer’s Covid vaccine booster shot strengthened the immune response for children ages 5 to 11, a study found.

  • Increasing reliance on at-home testing and the closing of mass testing sites are making official case counts of the coronavirus less reliable, scientists say.

  • Some Beijing residents have started stockpiling food in case the city imposes a lockdown, after seeing reports of food shortages during a lockdown in Shanghai.

Around the World

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • A U.S. jury yesterday convicted a British militant accused of being a member of the brutal Islamic State cell known as the Beatles in the abduction, abuse and deaths of four Americans. Above, Diane Foley, the mother of the journalist James Foley, who was killed by the Islamic State.

  • No one died in the mass shooting on New York’s subway. Poor marksmanship and a jammed handgun may have saved the victims.

  • The death toll from flooding in Durban, South Africa, has now exceeded 300.

What Else Is Happening

  • Movies by David Cronenberg, Claire Denis and Park Chan-wook will compete for the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

  • A mass of 500 trillion tons and an appearance like burned toast: Scientists have successfully measured the nucleus of the biggest comet over spotted.

  • Even the hardy cactus may not be safe from climate change.

A Morning Read

Credit…Aatish Bhatia and Henry Fountain, Produced by Aatish Bhatia and Sean Catangui

In mid-January, a massive underwater volcano erupted off the coast of the Pacific island nation of Tonga, spawning a devastating tsunami and, for the first time in decades, a planetary-scale pressure wave, or shockwave, in the atmosphere.


Credit…Netflix/Nippon TV

Putting toddlers to task

The Japanese television series “Old Enough!” — in which small children run errands — is a three-decade phenomenon, drawing in a fifth of all Japanese television viewers when it airs. Since late March, it has appeared on Netflix, transfixing international viewers with microsagas — episodes under 15 minutes in length — about toddlers marching forth into the big wide world.

In one episode, an “errand genius” attempts to procure groceries from a store more than half a mile away. In another, a voluble 3-year-old forgets what she has been asked to do because she is too busy talking to herself. Children are wont to drop their cargo (live fish, in one case) or refuse to leave home in the first place.

The show’s popularity reflects the country’s high level of public safety as well as a parenting culture that sees toddlers’ independence as a key marker of their development, Hisako Ueno and Mike Ives report for The Times.

“It’s a typical way of raising children in Japan and symbolic of our cultural approach, which can be surprising for people from other countries,” said Toshiyuki Shiomi, an expert on child development at Shiraume Gakuen University in Tokyo.


What to Cook

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

This flourless chocolate cake is a fabulous choice for Easter or Passover, or simply a weekend treat.

What to Watch

In “Paris, 13th District,” the French director Jacques Audiard tells the story of lovers finding their way amid the blocky high-rises of the Olympiads.

En Pointe

For choreography involving simulated sex or violence, some ballet companies are bringing in intimacy directors.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and here’s a clue: “Holy cow!” in old-fashioned speak (four letters).

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

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Wishing you a peaceful weekend. — Natasha

P.S. “When I can’t sleep, I’ve been doing Wordle,” Vice President Kamala Harris told Democratic donors last night, according to a CNN reporter.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on Elon Musk’s tangle with Twitter.

You can reach Natasha and the team at

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