Plus protests in Iran intensify and New York State sues Donald Trump for fraud.
Putin signals a coming escalation
In a rare address to the nation, the Russian president made a veiled threat of using nuclear weapons. “If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” Putin said. “This is not a bluff.”
His comments appeared to be a shift in his domestic strategy to the war. Ukraine said Putin’s remarks reflected his desperation: Russia’s military has suffered humiliating setbacks this month. (Here’s a map of Ukraine’s advances.)
It also seemed to be an effort to startle the U.S. and its Western allies into dropping their support. But at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Western leaders looked undeterred. President Biden said the U.S. and its allies would “stand in solidarity” against Russia and accused Moscow of violating the U.N. charter.
Analysis: Experts say Russia currently has 200,000 troops, or fewer, in Ukraine. Putin’s campaign would more than double that, but those called up need training and weapons.
Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, is expected to address the U.N. shortly after this newsletter sends. Here are live updates of the General Assembly.
Ten prisoners of war, including two U.S. military veterans, have been transferred to Saudi Arabia as part of a Russia-Ukraine exchange, Saudi Arabia said.
Protests in Iran escalate
Antigovernment protests in Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody are intensifying. The unrest has spread to dozens of cities, and at least seven people have been killed in her home province, Kurdistan.
The protests appear to be one of the largest displays of defiance of the Islamic Republic’s rule in years. Women risked arrest by removing and burning their hijabs in public. Protesters have called for an end to the Islamic Republic with chants of “Mullahs get lost,” “Death to the supreme leader” and “Life, liberty and women.”
The State of the War
- Raising the Stakes: Kremlin-backed officials in four partially occupied regions announced referendums on joining Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin called up roughly 300,000 reservists to join the fight in Ukraine, indicating a possible escalation of the war.
- Ukraine’s Counteroffensive: As Ukrainian troops try to inch forward in the east and south without losing control of territory, they face Russian forces that have been bolstered by inmates-turned-fighters and Iranian drones.
- In Izium: Following Russia’s retreat, Ukrainian investigators have begun documenting the toll of Russian occupation on the northeastern city. They have already found several burial sites, including one that could hold the remains of more than 400 people.
- A Near Miss: A powerful Russian missile exploded less than 900 feet from the reactors of a Ukrainian nuclear plant far from the front lines, according to Ukrainian officials. The strike was a reminder that despite its recent retreat, Russia can still threaten Ukraine’s nuclear sites.
The government responded by unleashing security forces, including riot police officers and the plainclothes Basij militia, to crack down on the protesters. Internet and cell service have been disrupted in neighborhoods where there were protests. Access to Instagram, which has been widely used by the protesters, was also restricted.
Background: Mahsa Amini died last week after the morality police arrested her on an accusation of violating the law on head scarves.
Context: Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s president, made his first appearance at the U.N. yesterday. He made no mention of the protests, even as demonstrators gathered outside the building to protest Amini’s death. Raisi also did not address the health concerns about Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 83, who recently canceled all meetings and public appearances because of illness.
New York sues Trumps claiming fraud
Donald Trump and his family business fraudulently overvalued his assets by billions of dollars in a sprawling scheme, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday by the New York attorney general, Letitia James.
James said Trump inflated his net worth by billions, doing so with the help of three of his children: Eric, Donald Jr. and Ivanka. She said that the defendants repeatedly manipulated the value of assets to receive favorable loans and assist with their tax burden.
James concluded that Trump and his family business violated several state criminal laws and “plausibly” broke federal criminal laws as well. She is seeking to bar the Trumps from ever running a business In New York State again, but her case could be difficult to prove.
Details: In one example cited in the lawsuit, the company listed a group of rent-stabilized apartments in its building on Park Avenue as worth $292 million, multiplying by six the figure that appraisers had assigned.
Context: Trump faces six separate investigations. Here is where each stands.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around 230 pilot whales are stranded on a Tasmanian beach where 470 whales were beached in 2020. Half have already died.
European corporate investment in China has fallen steeply. It is now limited to a handful of multinationals.
China’s “zero Covid” policy means that Hong Kong is no longer considered a global aviation hub, Al Jazeera reports.
In an effort to counter China’s growing influence in the Pacific, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand are conducting joint military exercises with Fiji, The Associated Press reports.
The French leftist politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon defended a lawmaker who admitted to slapping his wife, renewing debates over the left wing’s dedication to feminism.
U.S. medical experts recommended that doctors screen all patients under 65 for anxiety.
The Times looked at the Republican Party’s chances in the U.S. House of Representatives. New congressional maps offer them a huge advantage.
What Else Is Happening
Roger Federer will play his last match tomorrow, a doubles appearance in which he is expected to team up with Rafael Nadal.
New York City is fighting about the fate of its carriage horses again.
Bar-tailed godwits fly from Alaska to New Zealand and Australia without stopping to eat, drink or rest. Researchers believe the feat is so extraordinary that it should change the study of ornithology itself.
A Morning Read
Fifty years ago this week, Ferdinand Marcos placed the Philippines under military rule.
Now, Marcos’s son is in power, after spending years trying to rehabilitate his father’s name. Victims who survived the crackdown fear their stories will be lost. “What happened before was true,” a community organizer told The Times. “They can try to change history, but they can’t.”
Lives lived: Jack Charles, one of Australia’s leading Indigenous actors, had a charismatic personality and a troubled personal life. He died this month at 79.
ARTS AND IDEAS
‘We’re on That Bus, Too’
A quarantine bus crashed in China on Sunday, killing at least 27 people. The accident has become a flash point for online protest at the government’s “zero Covid” policy.
Some shared an old headline on social media: “Evil is prevalent because we obey unconditionally.” An editor lamented on his WeChat Timeline: “Just because an extremely small number of people may die from Covid infections, a whole nation of 1.3 billion Chinese are held hostage.”
“We’re on that bus, too” has been one of the most shared comments since the crash.
“The bus itself was a symbol of their collective ‘zero Covid’ destiny: the country’s 1.4 billion people heading to an unknown destination,” my colleague Li Yuan writes in an analysis of the outrage. “They felt they have lost control of their lives as the government pursues its policy relentlessly, even as the virus has become much milder and much of the world is eager to declare the end of the pandemic.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia
P.S. “We announce the establishment of the People’s Republic of China,” Mao Zedong said 73 years ago yesterday.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on migrants in the U.S.
You can reach Amelia and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.