Monday Briefing – The New York Times - The World News

Monday Briefing – The New York Times

After launching a complex offensive on Friday, Russian troops have poured across Ukraine’s northeastern border. At least nine villages have been seized, and Russia has taken more square miles per day than at almost any other point in the war.

Now, some Ukrainian troops are retreating, and some commanders have taken the unusual step of blaming each other. Thousands of civilians have fled to Kharkiv, about 20 miles from the border and the nearest big city to the villages. For now, it is safe — but approaching machine gun fire is increasingly audible, those on the ground say.

Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, Ukraine’s top military commander, conceded that the situation had “significantly worsened.” But he said that Russian attempts to break through Ukrainian defensive lines had been unsuccessful so far.

Toll: Villagers in the Kherson region slowly rebuilt their lives after Ukraine pushed back Russia. Now residents are braced for a fresh assault.

In Russia: President Vladimir Putin moved Sergei Shoigu, his minister of defense, to a position running the national security council, the first shake-up for Putin’s national security team since the invasion began.

In Ukraine: Seaborne grain and oilseed exports are now approaching prewar levels, according to data shared with The Times.

The Israeli military has stepped up pressure on the southern city of Rafah, describing it as Hamas’s last stronghold in Gaza. But close-quarters ground combat between Hamas fighters and Israeli troops in Gaza City and nearby Jabaliya over the weekend was a reminder that the militants might remain a force for a long time to come.

It has become a familiar scenario over the seven-month war: Israel declares an area clear of Hamas, only to return after the militants rebuild their forces.

Military analysts said that Hamas has been able to reconstitute itself in some areas because Israel has declined to administer those territories itself, and has also declined to transfer them to non-Hamas Palestinian control.

U.S.: Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, said he was concerned that Israel’s failure to lay down a template for the governance of Gaza meant that its victories might not be “sustainable” and would be followed by “chaos, by anarchy and ultimately by Hamas again.”

Quotable: “I am deeply distressed by the fast-deteriorating conditions in Gaza,” the United Nations’ human rights chief, Volker Türk, said in a statement about the fighting in the north.

Spain’s governing Socialist Party emerged yesterday as the winner of regional elections in Catalonia but did not clinch enough seats to govern alone. The vote had been widely seen as a litmus test for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s polarizing amnesty measure for separatists.

The Socialists now most likely face weeks of bargaining and possibly a repeat election. But for the first time in years, they may be able to form a regional government led by an anti-independence party.

The documentary “Super Size Me” led to a backlash against McDonald’s. Twenty years on, not only is McDonald’s bigger than ever, with nearly 42,000 global locations, but fast food in general has boomed.

  • Aurora borealis: The lights appeared much farther from the poles than usual this weekend. See photos.

  • Mona Lisa: At least one mystery about Leonardo da Vinci’s enigmatic subject seems to have been solved: the location of the painting.

  • Filling the silence: Talking to yourself is normal, experts say — and useful.

Celebration time: Why Manchester City fans do the “Poznan.”

‘It was personal’: The complicated etiquette of celebrating a soccer goal against a former club.

Olympics: Concerns are growing that the World Anti-Doping Agency is failing at its mission to keep sports free of illegal drugs, months before the Summer Games in Paris.

Ben Shelton: The American tennis star who wants to be different.

A British regional council caused consternation — and even some punctilious vandalism — with the decision to remove apostrophes from street signs for thoroughfares like St. Mary’s Walk and King’s Road.

Officials said that the decision would make the streets easier to search for in databases. And some experts said that the apostrophes served no real purpose; one linguist said they could be decorative and confusing, like the “fish forks” of punctuation.

But some proponents are furious. The chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society, a tiny group in Britain, said that phasing out apostrophes was “cultural vandalism.” “What’s next?” a former teacher said, adding, “We just use emojis?”

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