Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times


Russian forces desperately need new soldiers. Already, the government is using what some analysts call “stealth mobilization” to bring in new recruits without resorting to a politically risky national project. “Russia has a recruitment and mobilization problem,” said Russia analyst Kamil Galeev. “He’s basically desperate to get more men to use whatever means possible.”

To make up for the shortfall, the Kremlin relies on the poor ethnic minorities, Ukrainians from breakaway territories, mercenaries and militarized units of the National Guard to wage war. Volunteers are promised big cash incentives. But analysts have cast doubts on how long Russia will be able to maintain its offensive in Ukraine without a general mobilization.

For now, avoiding conscription for adult men allows the Kremlin to maintain the fiction that the war is a limited ‘special military operation‘, while minimizing the risk of the kind of public backlash that prompted the end of previous debacles. Russian military, such as the one in Afghanistan and the first war in Chechnya.

Victims: The number of dead and wounded on the battlefield is a closely guarded secret on both sides. The British Army recently put the Russian death toll at 25,000, with tens of thousands more injured, out of an invasion force of 300,000, including support units.

In other wartime news:

  • After taking control of the Luhansk province, the Russian army turned its attention to the neighboring province of Donetsk.

  • Brittney Griner, the WNBA player detained in Russia on drug charges since February, was honored by her teammates at the league’s All-Star Game in Chicago yesterday.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, and Ranil Wickremesinghe, the prime minister, are in hiding after huge protests rocked the capital, Colombo, over the weekend. Other officials said the two intended to step down, and it is unclear who is running the country. Whoever takes the reins will face a crisis, analysts say, inheriting a slumped economy and an exhausted and furious public.

Opposition leaders have been clamoring to decipher Rajapaksa’s intentions: whether he would indeed step down or whether his silence is a sign he is weighing his options for a protracted fight. Discussions over who could succeed him were also taking shape, with the speaker of parliament seen as the likely choice for interim president.

Sri Lanka’s downward spiral has taken place against a backdrop of global instability. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent economic sanctions against Moscow, inflation, high energy prices and food shortages have plagued much of the world. Even before that, the pandemic had disrupted the supply chain.

Scenes: The British colonial-era building serving as Rajapaksa’s official residence has become a free museum. A stream of visitors crowded the hallways and stairways, and activists made calls encouraging people to visit the other main compounds they had invaded: the president’s offices and the prime minister’s residence.

Executives from US military contractor L3Harris have traveled to Israel in recent months in an attempt to buy the NSO Group. The cyber-hacking firm has been blacklisted by the US government because its spyware, Pegasus, has been used to break into the phones of political leaders, rights activists and journalists.

US intelligence officials have quietly backed plans to buy NSO, the leaders said during talks in Israel. But White House officials said they were outraged to learn of the negotiations and that any attempt by US defense firms to buy a blacklisted company would be met with serious resistance. L3Harris then said he scuttled his plans.

Questions remain as to whether parts of the US government had hoped to place control of NSO’s powerful spyware under US authority. It also left hanging the fate of NSO, whose technology has been a tool of Israeli foreign policy even as the company has come under intense criticism for the way its spyware has been used by governments against their citizens.

The context: The episode was the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle between nations to take control of some of the world’s most powerful cyber weapons, and it reveals some of the headwinds facing a coalition of nations – including states States under the Biden administration – as it attempts to rein in a lucrative global market for sophisticated commercial spyware.

“Africa Fashion”, a landmark exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, traces the influence of the African fashion scene.

“There is no single African aesthetic, nor is African fashion a monoculture that can be defined,” said Christine Checinska, the museum’s first curator of African fashion and the African diaspora. Instead, the show focuses on the philosophy of Pan-Africanism embraced by many designers and artists on the continent. “It focuses on abundance, not lack,” she added.

In two decades of flying, things have never been more stressful than they are today, writes veteran flight attendant Kristie Koerbel. “Historically, summer is always a tough time to fly, but this summer is much worse,” she wrote. The key is to travel smart. Read all of his advice here.

Always fly direct. That way, if you’re running late, you don’t have to worry about catching your next flight. If you can’t avoid the connection, don’t book the shortest stopover: a one-hour stopover is no longer enough. In most cases, three hours is safe.

Fly as early in the day as possible. The first flights of the day rarely cancel. Thunderstorms form as the day warms, flight crews reach their duty limits later in the day, and traffic increases at busy airports. If your anticipated flight is cancelled, there will be more options to book another flight.

Think twice about the cheapest fares. If you buy the cheapest seats, you may not be able to sit with your family. Also be aware that if a flight is oversold and no one volunteers to give up their seat, the first to be kicked out will be the family who saved a few dollars by using a bargain website.

Bring a sweater. Here’s a flight attendant secret: we sometimes intentionally keep the plane cold. For people who struggle with airsickness, heat makes it worse. We don’t want anyone using these sick bags.

For more: Here’s what to know if your bag doesn’t arrive when you do.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. -Natasha

PS Financial journalist Joe Rennison joins The Times to cover markets and exchanges.

The latest episode of ‘The Daily’ focuses on the resignation of Boris Johnson.

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

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