Your Wednesday Briefing

Vladimir Putin speaking outside the eastern city of Tsiolkovsky, Russia, yesterday in a photo released by Russian state media.Credit…Evgeny Biyatov/Sputnik

Peace talks reach a ‘dead end,’ Putin says

In his first extended remarks about the war in almost a month, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, said that his country would persist in its invasion of Ukraine “until its full completion.” Peace talks with Ukraine had reached a “dead end,” he said, as he falsely described as “fake” evidence of Russian atrocities in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. Follow the latest updates.

For the first time, Putin explicitly moved away from his goal of gaining total control of Ukraine. He said Russia’s aims now centered on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia separatists have been fighting since 2014. “Our goal is to help the people who live in the Donbas, who feel their unbreakable bond with Russia,” he said.

Those comments cannot necessarily be taken at face value. For months leading up to the invasion, Russian officials insisted that there were no plans to invade and that a buildup of troops was merely a military exercise. Ukrainian and Western officials now anticipate an intense offensive in the Donbas region, where the Russian military has been pouring in troops.

Mariupol: Almost seven weeks into the war, the Russians have yet to conquer Mariupol, the strategically important southern Donbas port. Western officials said they were evaluating accounts that Russian forces might have dropped chemical weapons there, a war crime.

In other news from the war:

  • Ukrainian officials said they had thwarted a Russian cyberattack on Ukraine’s power grid, raising fears that Moscow would increase its use of digital weapons in the war.

  • Weeks after Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, announced a strategic shift toward expanding his country’s military, doubts are emerging.

  • A mother wrote emergency contact details on her daughter’s back, in case the child were orphaned. A photo of the toddler has become a symbol of Ukraine’s anguish.

  • The World Bank is preparing to deliver $1.5 billion in aid to Ukraine.

The police responding to a mass shooting in a subway station in Brooklyn.Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

10 people shot in Brooklyn subway attack

At least 23 people were injured, 10 of them from gunshot wounds, after a man in an orange construction vest released two smoke grenades and fired at least 33 shots on a subway train in Brooklyn yesterday morning. Five of the victims were critically hurt, but officials said they all were in stable condition and were expected to survive. Here’s how the shooting unfolded.

The attack — one of the worst outbreaks of violence in the subway in recent history — heightened fears across New York City at a time when officials have been confronting a rise in violent crime and struggling to lure riders back to a public transit system hobbled by the pandemic.

As of last night, hundreds of police officers were searching for Frank R. James, 62, whom officials have called a “person of interest” in the shooting. A $50,000 reward has been offered for information. He has also been connected to a YouTube channel where he delivered lengthy rants, many of them concerned with race and violence.

Anxiety: As the evening commute began, many New Yorkers were fearful. “I’m terrified of taking the subway,” said James Lee, who works near the station where the shooting had taken place. “I never take public transportation anymore in New York, period.”

Inscriptions on the National Covid Memorial Wall in London.Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

The world exceeds 500 million known Covid-19 cases

As of yesterday, the world had exceeded half a billion known cases of the coronavirus, up from 400 million in February. The actual number is almost certainly far higher, with many cases going undetected or unreported. That gap may grow as some countries, including Britain and the U.S., scale back testing.

Against the warnings of experts and despite the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron subvariant BA.2., many nations have dropped their pandemic precautions. “What’s happening globally and in the U.S. is that people basically gave up,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the W.H.O. “They just want to go back to normal life.”

Still, the number of new cases reported around the globe each day has been declining for some time to an average of about 1.1 million cases a day, or 32 percent fewer than two weeks ago. Deaths from the coronavirus have also fallen, with a global average of about 3,800 a day over the past week, 23 percent fewer than two weeks ago.

Vaccines: More than 5.1 billion people — about 66.4 percent of the world’s population — have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

In other news from the pandemic:

  • Britain’s leader, Boris Johnson, has been fined for breaking lockdown rules. He is the first British prime minister in living memory to be found in breach of the law.

  • Lizzo concerts, snack stands, terrarium classes: Tech companies are desperate to bring workers back to the office.

  • A lawyer flew home to China hoping to see his parents for the first time since the pandemic began. Instead, he was trapped in three months of quarantine.

  • Bremen, Germany’s smallest state, managed its vaccination campaign better than any other place in the country. Here’s how it did so.


Around the World

Credit…Rogan Ward/Reuters
  • At least 45 people have died in Durban, South Africa, after torrential rain led to flooding and mudslides.

  • Sri Lanka suspended payments on its international debt, effectively putting the country in default as it plunged deeper into an economic crisis.

  • The town of Zipolite, and its nude beach, has long been an oasis for Mexico’s queer community. But the area’s surging popularity may threaten its countercultural vibe.

Other Big Stories

Credit…James Hill for The New York Times
  • Emmanuel Macron, the French president, and Marine Le Pen, his far-right rival, are in close contention as the April 24 presidential runoff election nears.

  • The Communist Party in China is walking back its fierce campaign to rein in big companies and redistribute the country’s wealth.

  • In the U.S., consumer prices rose 8.5 percent in March compared with last year — the fastest inflation rate since 1981.

What Else Is Happening

  • A painting owned by a Russian oligarch has been seized by the French authorities.

  • Road rage killings in the U.S. have exploded over the past year. “Now, instead of throwing up the finger, they’re pulling out the gun and shooting,” the mayor of Houston said.

A Morning Read

Credit…Tomás Munita

Life’s not easy if you’re an Adélie penguin on the Antarctic Peninsula’s western side, where Adélie populations have declined by up to 90 percent in some spots as a result of some of the fastest warming in the world. But it’s a different story on the eastern side of the peninsula.

Lives Lived

Mimi Reinhard, the Jewish secretary in a forced-labor camp who typed up what would one day be known as Schindler’s list, has died at 107.


Ingrid Pollard and her 1992 work “Self-Evident.”Credit…From left: Emile Holba; Ingrid Pollard

Black artists lead the Turner Prize shortlist

Ingrid Pollard, a pioneering Black female photographer, and Veronica Ryan, a Black sculptor who found widespread recognition in her 60s, are among the four nominees announced yesterday for this year’s Turner Prize, the prestigious British visual arts award.

Born in Guyana, Pollard, 69, has been getting attention since the 1980s for her work exploring Black life, including its relationship to rural environments. Ryan, 66, makes sculptures of seeds, pods and fruit, as well as assemblages from sewn and crocheted bright fabrics.

Heather Phillipson was also nominated. In 2020, she installed in Trafalgar Square, London, “The End,” a work that included a 31-foot statue of a dollop of whipped cream with a fly on it. The fourth artist on the list is Sin Wai Kin, a nonbinary artist born in Toronto whose work mixes genres including traditional Chinese opera and drag shows.

Founded in 1984, the Turner Prize is one of the international art world’s major awards. Past winners, such as Damien Hirst and Steve McQueen, have often become global stars. But the prize has long been contentious in Britain, with newspaper critics often complaining that the nominated artists are too obscure or that their work is more activism than art.

This year’s winner will be announced at a ceremony on Dec. 7. A free exhibition of works by the nominees will run at Tate Liverpool from Oct. 20 through March 19, 2023.


What to Cook

Credit…Bryan Gardner for The New York Times

Salmon soba noodles is a bright, quick meal.

What to read

In “The Trouble With Happiness” and “The Faces,” the Danish writer Tove Ditlevsen recounts a kind of claustrophobic bliss-out, our reviewer writes.

What to Listen to

“Unlimited Love,” the latest album by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, opened at No. 1 on the Billboard chart.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Chutzpah (five 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. Vivek Shankar, a former editor at Bloomberg in Washington, D.C., will be joining The Times as a senior staff editor in Seoul.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on President Biden’s climate shift.

You can reach Natasha and the team at

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