Your Monday Briefing

Ukrainian soldiers a few hundred yards from Russian positions near the Russian-occupied Donetsk airport on Sunday.Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Ukraine strikes back in the south

Ukrainian soldiers launched a counteroffensive yesterday in Kherson, the key city that Russia has used as a staging ground for operations across southern Ukraine. Ukrainian forces attempted to hold off Russia’s efforts to conquer and cut off a strategic strip of eastern Ukraine. Follow the latest updates from the war.

The announcement of the Ukrainian counteroffensive — “Hold on, Kherson, we’re coming!” the military said yesterday morning on Twitter — signaled what might prove to be a new chapter in a war that has geopolitical, economic and humanitarian significance.

In recent weeks, Russian forces, stretched thin and taking heavy losses as they gained ground in the eastern Donbas region, have concentrated their efforts on fortifying defensive positions in the south. It was not clear if they were prepared for the Ukrainian counterattack.

Morale building: Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, yesterday visited the country’s northeast, near Kharkiv, where he praised military forces for their success in pushing Russians back from the city’s outskirts. Kharkiv, which endured months of shelling that killed many civilians and forced tens of thousands to flee, was struck again hours after he left.

In other news from the war:

  • Volunteer organizations are helping Russian-speaking Ukrainians abandon “the occupiers’ language.”

President Biden and Jill Biden paid their respects at the memorial site at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday.Credit…Cheriss May for The New York Times

A solemn visit to Uvalde

President Biden traveled to Uvalde, Texas, with the first lady, Jill Biden, to visit a memorial outside Robb Elementary School where 19 children and two teachers were gunned down last week.

Less than two weeks earlier, the couple had observed a moment of silence near the site of a racist massacre at a supermarket in Buffalo. The frequency of the shootings has spurred a new round of negotiations over gun control measures in Congress, and some liberal states, including New York and California, are moving to pass stricter gun-control laws.

The Justice Department said yesterday that it would review the law enforcement response to the mass shooting in Uvalde. The protracted response came despite the fact that some children inside the classrooms were calling 911 for help, raising questions about whether lives could have been saved had officials acted sooner.

Bipartisan approach: After Uvalde, Republicans said they wanted to do something, at least on issues of school security and mental health. Democrats are demanding at least stronger background checks at gun shows and internet gun bazaars. Many Democrats say they believe that Congress should go even further.

Election Day in Colombia on Sunday.Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times

A June runoff in Colombia’s election

Two anti-establishment candidates, Gustavo Petro, a leftist, and Rodolfo Hernández, a right-wing populist, captured the top two spots in Colombia’s presidential election yesterday, delivering a stunning blow to the dominant conservative political class. The two will compete in a runoff election on June 19.

The election is shaping up to be one of the most consequential in the country’s history. At stake: the country’s economic model, democratic integrity and the livelihoods of millions of people who have been pushed into poverty. Colombia has long been the strongest U.S. ally in the region: Petro has called for a reset of the bilateral relationship, including a re-examination of a trade agreement.

A win for Petro would mark a watershed moment for one of the most politically conservative societies in Latin America. His rise reflects not just a leftist shift across Latin America, but also an anti-incumbent fervor that has gained strength as the pandemic has deepened poverty and inequality.

By the numbers: With more than 99 percent of the ballots counted on Sunday evening, Petro received more than 40 percent of the vote. Hernández received over 28 percent, an unexpected second-place victory ahead of the conservative establishment candidate, Federico Gutiérrez, who had been polling in second place.


Around the World

Credit…Yunish Gurung/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • The Nepali Army is searching for a small plane that the government said crashed during a flight to a Himalayan tourist destination with 22 people aboard.

  • The Taliban’s attempts to eradicate opium cultivation in Afghanistan have been hampered because of a shift by poppy farmers to green energy, helping generate bumper harvests.

  • Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, France’s most trusted anchorman for decades, has been accused by more than 20 women of rape, sexual assault and harassment in France’s belated #MeToo reckoning.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Vatican Media/Reuters
  • Pope Francis will create 21 new cardinals in August, hailing from places like India, Nigeria, Singapore and South Korea, in a shift away from Europe.

  • The Times spoke with hundreds of school counselors about how the pandemic has harmed children’s mental health.

  • As Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, stumbles, the opposition Labour party is struggling to present a clear message about what alternative they can offer.

What Else Is Happening

  • Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1, and Rafael Nadal, the 13-time French Open champion, will compete in the quarterfinal tomorrow at Roland Garros.

  • Real Madrid won the Champions League, European soccer’s premier competition.

  • The F.B.I.’s Art Crime unit is investigating the authenticity of a collection that the Orlando Museum of Art says are works by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

A Morning Read

Credit…Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times

It’s easy to forget today that pay phones were once essential in the daily lives of New Yorkers; in 1978, a pay phone in New York’s Penn Station was the busiest in the U.S., with an average pickup rate of 5,500 times a month.

As the effort to remove the final examples from the streets of New York City was completed this week, reporters for The Times looked back through our archives for stories about and images of the humble yet ubiquitous pay phone. One 1966 classic, about two stolen chimpanzees, begins: “Tarzan and Jane were found in a Brooklyn phone booth early yesterday.”


Credit…Illustration by Millie von Platen

A summer of recommendations

The months ahead are shaping up to be the most normal summer in years — even if things aren’t quite back to normal.

Perhaps you’re considering a summer break. Don’t assume that old travel patterns will necessarily continue. Flights may be more challenging than you remember, and beach houses may be harder to find in some places and easier in others.

Still deciding where to go? The Times is running a series — “A Summer of Cycling” — with reports on Vancouver, British Columbia; Vermont; Alaska; Hawaii; a 150-mile journey from Italy to Croatia; and seven cities around the world that are fun to explore on a bike.

If you’re staying home, here are some recommendations for great barbecue and cookout recipes that can be prepared ahead of time. That way, you don’t need to be working in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun. The ultimate advance-preparation meal is a picnic, and our recipe columnist David Tanis has plenty of advice.

And if all you really want to do is to get lost in a great movie or a wonderful book, we have you covered. Here’s The Times’s list of the 101 most interesting movies of the season and our Books desk colleagues’ guide to summer reading. They have 88 books to transport you this season, including thrillers, historical fiction, romance and cookbooks.


What to Cook

Credit…Linda Xiao for The New York Times

These delicate won tons are subtly sweet and filled with a tender combination of pork, stock, soy sauce and Shaoxing rice wine.

What to Read

David Shiffman’s “Why Sharks Matter” might help you see the creatures in a new, more appreciative light.

What to Watch

The satire “Triangle of Sadness,” from the Swedish director Ruben Ostlund, won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and a clue: Hurricane’s center (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. Work by The Times won the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Journalism Award for New Media as well as the John Siegenthaler Courage in Journalism Award.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the baby formula shortage in the U.S.

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

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