Your Wednesday Briefing


Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers from the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol who had made a last stand against Russian forces are now in the Kremlin’s custody and have been transported to Russian-held territory after Ukraine’s military ordered them to surrender. Russian officials have raised the prospect that at least some may be treated as war criminals. Follow the latest updates from the war.

News of Ukraine’s surrender order to its fighters, widely viewed domestically as heroes who have stared down deprivation and doom, was greeted with anxiety in the country, where antipathy toward Russia has only deepened since the war. Many expressed fears that the last defenders of Mariupol would suffer as prisoners of Russia.

The surrender at Mariupol, a once-thriving southeast port now largely reduced to ruin, is one of Russia’s few significant territorial achievements in its nearly three-month invasion of Ukraine. Both sides acknowledge that talks have essentially collapsed.

First person: “I am waiting for news and praying,” said Natalia Zarytska, part of a delegation of wives and mothers of men who had been in Azovstal.

Analysis: Russia spent years overhauling its military. The invasion shows how the effort failed.

In other news from the invasion:


Billions of people in poorer countries face a major economic crisis as the consequences of Russia’s assault on Ukraine are compounded by other challenges, including the pandemic, a global tightening of credit and a slowdown in China, the second-largest economy after that of the U.S.

The most direct repercussions can be seen in the rising prices of cooking fuel, fertilizer and staple foods like wheat. “It’s like wildfires in all directions,” said Jayati Ghosh, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “This is much bigger than after the global financial crisis. Everything is stacked against the low- and middle-income countries.”

Sanctions imposed on Russia, a major oil and gas exporter, have constrained the supply of energy, sending prices skyward and limiting global economic growth, now estimated at 3.6 percent this year compared with 6.1 percent last year. Poorer countries must choose between increasing spending to aid their populations while adding debt, or imposing budget austerity and courting social conflict.

Food shortages: More than 14 million people are on the brink of starvation in the Horn of Africa, according to the International Rescue Committee — the result of a drought combined with the pandemic and shortfalls of grains from Russia and Ukraine.

Pandemic: Covid-19 continues to assail health systems, depleting government resources and leading central banks to raise interest rates to choke off inflation. That is prompting investors to abandon lower-income countries, moving funds into less risky assets in wealthy economies.


Britain may scrap some of the rules that govern trade with Northern Ireland, a move that would set it on a collision course with the E.U., 18 months after a trade deal that was meant to douse the last fires of Brexit. Liz Truss, the British foreign secretary, said the protocol had disrupted trade between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.

The announcement drew a sharp retort from the E.U., which said that if Britain went ahead with its plans, it would respond “with all measures at its disposal” — potentially including imposing tariffs on British goods shipped across the English Channel. “Unilateral actions contradicting an international agreement are not acceptable,” said Maros Sefcovic, vice president of the European Commission.

The Northern Ireland protocol is fiercely opposed by unionist parties that favor keeping Northern Ireland as part of the U.K. and that have complained the rules drive a wedge between the North and mainland Britain. The British government accuses the E.U. of being overly rigid in the way it applies border checks.

Details: Under legislation outlined yesterday by Truss, the British government could discard regulations including border checks on goods shipped from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland. She suggested that negotiations with the E.U. could help resolve the desire for change.

Catch-up: What is the protocol, why doesn’t Britain like it, and what is at stake? Here’s what you need to know.

How a water bottle made famous on social media conquered feeds everywhere, one pale millennial shade at a time.

Urvashi Vaid, a lawyer and activist, was a leading figure in the fight for L.G.B.T.Q. equality over more than four decades. She died at 63.

At Les Trois Chevaux, a French restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, jeans, shorts and sneakers are out. And don’t even think about wearing flip-flops. “At Les Trois Chevaux, we revere the style and finesse that can only be attributed to having New York swagger,” reads a pre-dinner text sent to the restaurant’s diners.

During a pandemic in which many Americans traded “hard pants” for leisure wear, dress codes are making an unexpected return to the dining room. Several new restaurants now require a certain standard of attire, by turn stern (“upscale fashionable dress code strongly enforced,” warns one) or vague (“smart casual or better,” advises another).

Whatever the particulars, the calculation is the same: a belief that many diners are eager to dress up again. And if it seems exclusionary, well, that’s sort of the point. “Dress signifies a lot of highly contested issues: gender identity and gender roles, race, class, status,” said Richard Thompson Ford, an expert on dress codes at Stanford Law School.

Besides, in the words of Jack Donaghy, a fictional executive on the sitcom “30 Rock,” you don’t need plans to wear a tuxedo: “It’s after 6. What am I, a farmer?”

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