Your Thursday Briefing: Zelensky at the White House

President Volodymyr Zelensky went to Washington after visiting Ukraine’s eastern front.Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Zelensky visits Washington

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine met with President Biden at the White House during his first trip outside Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February. The visit amounts to a daring show of solidarity with Ukraine’s most powerful ally and its largest foreign supplier of weapons.

Sitting next to Biden in the Oval Office, Zelensky spoke in English and expressed “all my appreciations, from my heart, from the heart of Ukrainians — all Ukrainians” for the U.S. support. Biden told Zelensky that the Ukrainian people “inspire the world.”

Zelensky will deliver an address to a joint session of Congress later in the day in which he will again express gratitude but stress that Ukraine still needs more powerful weapons, according to Ukrainian politicians. Follow our updates.

The U.S. announced a new aid package of $1.8 billion that includes a Patriot missile battery, the most advanced U.S. ground-based air defense system. The Patriot could help Ukraine defend against Russian missile and drone attacks that have targeted its energy infrastructure. In military circles, the Patriot is viewed as a security blanket, protection from incoming fire.

More aid: Zelensky’s trip came after U.S. lawmakers proposed $44 billion more in emergency aid to Ukraine, which would bring the total U.S. wartime assistance to more than $100 billion. But many Republican lawmakers are hostile to authorizing more money to Ukraine just as they are poised to take control of the House of Representatives in January.

Russia: In a speech to defense officials yesterday,President Vladimir Putinacknowledged Russia’s shortcomings but agreed to an increase in the size of Russia’s armed forces. He said there would be “no limits in terms of financing” Russia’s campaign in Ukraine.

Donald Trump’s tax records show chronic losses and tax avoidance.Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Trump’s taxes

In his first three years as president, Donald Trump paid $1.1 million in federal income taxes, according to tax data released by a U.S. House committee. But by the end of his term, he reported large losses and paid no taxes in 2020.

Trump began his presidency experiencing the sort of large business losses that had defined much of his career. His fortunes turned in 2018, as he reported $24.3 million in adjusted gross income, largely because he sold properties or investments.

The State of the War

  • Zelensky in Washington: President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine will visit Washington today to meet with President Biden and address Congress. The visit will be the first time Mr. Zelensky has left Ukraine since Russia invaded.
  • U.S. Spending Bill: The giant annual spending package contains more than $44 billion in aid for Ukraine, renewing the U.S. commitment to the country’s defense as the war grinds toward a second year.
  • A Botched Invasion: Secret battle plans, intercepts and interviews with soldiers and Kremlin confidants offer new insight into the stunning failures of Russia’s military in Ukraine.
  • A New Russian Offensive? A top adviser to Mr.Zelensky said Ukraine is bracing for the possibility that Russia will sharply escalate the war in a winter offensive that could include mass infantry attacks.

He also reported a gain in 2019, but in 2020, as the U.S. staggered under the coronavirus pandemic, his finances reversed course: Trump reported a loss of $4.8 million and paid zero income tax.

Details: During his presidency, the entirety of his core businesses — mostly real estate, golf courses and hotels — continued to report losses every year, totaling $60 million.

Context: The committee’s vote to release Trump’s taxes was the culmination of a yearslong battle. Trump had broken with tradition by keeping his finances confidential during his campaign and while in office.

Delayed audit: The House committee also said that the I.R.S. failed to audit Trump during his first two years in office, despite a program that makes the auditing of sitting presidents mandatory.

Background: In 2020, The Times released findings of an investigation into his tax-return data that showed years of tax avoidance.

“Now I don’t even have the motivation to survive,” a 19-year-old said.Credit…Kiana Hayeri for The New York Times

Crushing news for Afghan women

The Taliban have barred women from attending universities, another sign that Afghanistan’s government has all but reinstituted its hard-line rule from the 1990s. In recent weeks, the Taliban government has reinstated Shariah law, with public beatings and one execution.

The latest move is another blow to young women, many of whom were raised in an era of relative opportunity. They have seen their rights disappear since the Taliban took power last year.

The restrictions are also likely to threaten the influx of badly needed aid to Afghanistan, which has kept the country from the brink of famine as it grapples with economic collapse.

Reaction: “I have no more hope or motivation left,” a 22-year-old said. “If being a girl is a sin, and I was born a girl, it is not my fault.”

Border tensions: Pakistan’s military raided a detention center near Afghanistan after Pakistani Taliban militants held there took hostages to try to break out. There has been a recent resurgence in violence from the militants.


Asia Pacific

Relations between Australia and China have been thawing recently.Credit…Lukas Coch/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Australia’s foreign minister, Penny Wong, made the first visit to China by the country’s top diplomat in four years, The Associated Press reports.

  • Some government and factory workers in China are being urged to return to work, despite having mild Covid symptoms, Bloomberg reports.

  • The plant that caused a baby spinach recall in Australia was thorn apple, a nightshade, The Guardian reports.

  • Vandals destroyed cave art in southern Australia thought to be about 30,000 years old, the BBC reports.

U.S. News

  • Elon Musk said he would resign as Twitter’s chief executive when he found “someone foolish enough to take the job.” But it’s unclear if he would actually cede control to his successor.

  • While Musk is preoccupied with Twitter, Tesla faces a growing list of problems.

  • After four years of exploration on Mars, NASA’s InSight mission has ended.

  • Russian hackers breached the taxi dispatch system at J.F.K. airport and charged cabbies $10 to jump the line.

Other Big Stories

The celebration may be the biggest open-air party in Buenos Aires’s history.Credit…Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press
  • Millions of Argentines flocked to welcome home their national team after their World Cup win.

  • Eight teenage girls in Canada have been charged with murder in the stabbing of a man in Toronto. The girls met through social media.

  • A prominent Mexican television anchor survived an assassination attempt. Other journalists are worried.

  • Ambulance workers in the U.K. staged

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