Your Wednesday Briefing
A Ukrainian soldier near Kherson this month.Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times
A pivotal juncture in the war in Ukraine
The Ukrainian military has defied odds and expectations, repeatedly forcing Russia into retreats over nine brutal, bloody months of war. Tens of thousands of soldiers have been killed on each side. But Ukraine’s army has reclaimed only about 55 percent of the area Russia occupied after invading in February. About one-fifth of Ukrainian territory is still held by Russia.
Ukraine is on the offensive along most of the 600-mile front line, allowing it to shape the next phase of the fighting. It may opt to push its advantage farther into Russian-occupied territory, or to settle in for the winter, as military analysts say Russia would like. Pressing on would entail significant hurdles, with battles against more densely defended territory, on challenging terrain.
Russia continues to send in newly mobilized soldiers to make up for steep losses. The many Russian soldiers withdrawn from the Kherson region west of the Dnipro River are now freed up for redeployment elsewhere, even as ground units may be suffering from low morale and poor leadership.
On the ground: Ukraine is now fighting in boats in the lower Dnipro; pushing against several trench lines in the Zaporizhzhia region in the south; and engaging in a bloody fight along the Svatove-Kreminna line, in pine forests in northeastern Ukraine.
Infrastructure: While Russian soldiers are on the defensive on battlefields in the south and the east, Moscow continues to aim missile and drone strikes at Ukraine’s power plants, substations, natural gas facilities and waterworks, degrading the quality of life for millions of civilians in an effort to demoralize them.
Peace talks: The idea of trading land for peace remains a nonstarter in Kyiv. The Ukrainian government does not believe any negotiated settlement would last and would instead grant Moscow time to recover before attacking again.
House panel can have Trump’s tax returns
The Supreme Court cleared the way for a House committee to obtain Donald Trump’s tax returns, refusing the former president’s request to block their release after a yearslong fight. It was a decisive loss for Trump, delivered by a court whose conservative supermajority includes three justices he appointed.
The decision means the Treasury Department is likely to soon turn over six years of Trump’s tax returns to the House, which has been seeking his financial records since 2019. It is not clear whether the committee will publish the returns, and an official said no decision would be made until lawmakers received the files.
For nearly four years, Trump has used the slow pace of litigation to keep his returns out of the House panel’s hands, but that strategy appears to have fallen just short. The House would almost certainly have given up the fight in January, when Republicans take control of the chamber.
Seized documents: An appeals court heard the Justice Department’s challenge to the appointment of an arbiter to review government documents seized from Trump’s Florida compound this summer. A ruling in the department’s favor would greatly free up an investigation into Trump’s handling of the material.
From Brexit to ‘Bregret’
After years of wrangling over its departure from the E.U., Britain is caught in yet another debate over Brexit, as the country’s economic crisis bites. The country’s vexed trade relationship with the rest of Europe is indisputably playing a role, causing public support for Brexit to plummet. In a recent poll, 56 percent of those surveyed said leaving the E.U. had been a mistake.
The second-guessing grew louder this week, after a report emerged that Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, was considering a closer arrangement with the E.U., modeled on that of Switzerland. The Swiss have access to the combined market and fewer border checks, in return for paying into the bloc’s coffers and accepting some of its rules. Sunak has denied the report.
While nobody is predicting that Britain will seek to rejoin the E.U., political analysts said that the report, on top of the dismal economic data and growing popular sentiment against Brexit, would open a fresh and uncertain chapter in Britain’s search for a new relationship with the rest of Europe.
Analysis: “You can’t really address the economic problems the U.K. has without addressing and improving the trade relationship with the E.U.,” said Mujtaba Rahman of the political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group. “Otherwise, you’re just fiddling around the edges.”
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
The death toll from a devastating earthquake in Indonesia has risen to at least 268, with more than a thousand injured. The rescue effort continues.
Chinese officials have closed businesses in Beijing and locked down much of the northern city of Shijiazhuang as Covid cases surge.
Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African president, is likely to secure a second term as leader of the African National Congress, and president of the country, after nominations by his party’s rank and file were released yesterday.
People in countries that do not take part in the Eurovision Song Contest will be able to vote for their favorite songs online next year.
Other Big Stories
At a bankruptcy hearing, lawyers for the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX painted a grim picture of its finances. Many of the recipients of donations from Sam Bankman-Fried, its founder, are now seeking to distance themselves.
Elon Musk is aggressively looking to cut costs at Twitter, instructing employees to renegotiate contracts with outside vendors and, in some cases, not pay them at all.
Covid, suicides and fatal overdoses have all contributed to a rise in deaths in jails across the U.S.
A farm sanctuary in New York is investigating the inner lives of cows, pigs and chickens — but only if the animals volunteer.
As diagnoses of anxiety disorders rise among children, some are trying exposure therapy, in which patients must face the situations that cause them distress.
U.S. health officials expressed optimism that the nation is better prepared to weather a surge of Covid-19 infections this winter than it was last year.
Astronomers have found comets, which normally fly in from the far reaches of space, seemingly misplaced in the asteroid belt. Why are they there?
A Morning Read
Members of China’s older generation are rapping, singing and dancing on social media, finding viral success by sharing their daily lives online. “Times are changing,” said one older fashion influencer. “We need to keep up with society and integrate into it.”
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
Was this the greatest World Cup upset ever? Argentina is among the favorites to win the World Cup and yet the nation was humbled by Saudi Arabia, the 51st-ranked team in the world.
The two tackles that cost the U.S. a much-needed victory: The U.S.M.N.T. let victory slip through its fingers in its draw against Wales at the World Cup. Here’s how a promising night turned sour in a few seconds.
The Queens neighborhood that Timothy Weah calls home: His father is one of the most famous soccer players of all time. Now, after building his foundation in Rosedale, N.Y, the younger Weah has announced himself at the World Cup.
ARTS AND IDEAS
A musical milestone
When the New York Philharmonic moved to Lincoln Center in 1962, its new hall had no women’s dressing rooms. That’s because there were no women in the orchestra. As of this fall, for the first time in its 180-year history, the women in the Philharmonic outnumber the men, 45 to 44.
When the Philharmonic was founded in 1842, women were discouraged from pursuing careers in music, and it was rare for them to attend evening concerts unless they were with men. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when it began holding blind auditions, with musicians playing behind screens, that the orchestra’s gender imbalance began to change.
Women now make up roughly half of orchestra players nationwide, but they are still substantially outnumbered by men in most elite ensembles, including those in Boston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. But at the New York Philharmonic, 10 of the 12 most recent hires have been female.
“Women are winning these positions fair and square,” said Deborah Borda, the Philharmonic’s president and chief executive. “All we seek is equity,” she added, “because society is 50-50.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Deviled eggs get any party going. (This slicing tip is a game changer.)
What to Read
Work your way through our list of 100 notable books of 2022.
The Andaman Islands offer Indian culture, spectacular beaches and a glimpse of fascinating communities.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Person you might feel embarrassed around (five letters).
And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Natasha
P.S. Karan Deep Singh won a health award from the South Asian Journalists Association for his reporting on India’s Covid-19 surge.
“The Daily” is on a looming “tripledemic” in the U.S.
You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].