Your Monday Briefing

A Ukrainian tank heading in the direction of Toshkivka on Sunday.Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Russia gains more ground in Donbas

Russian forces mounted an assault on Sunday against Toshkivka, a key Ukrainian defensive position near Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. The fight highlighted Ukraine’s faltering defense of two of the last cities in Luhansk Province of the Donbas region that are not yet under Russian control.

As Russian troops have moved to surround both cities, Ukrainian forces now hold only a small portion of Sievierodonetsk. Russia’s Defense Ministry did not immediately comment on Toshkivka but said that its forces had seized Metolkine, a town just east of Sievierodonetsk.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington research group, said that Russia would likely be able to seize Sievierodonetsk in the next few weeks but at a considerable cost. The slow-moving fight is sapping the morale of both sides, Western officials said, and NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, warned that the war could grind on for years.

Weapons of war: An analysis of more than 1,000 photos found that Russia has used hundreds of weapons in Ukraine that are widely banned by international treaties and that kill, maim and destroy indiscriminately.

Death toll: The war in Ukraine has exacted a staggering toll in lives lost. But no one is quite sure what that toll is — only that many people have been killed.

President Emmanuel Macron voting on Sunday in Le Touquet, France.Credit…Pool photo by Michel Spingler

Macron fails to secure a majority

The centrist coalition led by President Emmanuel Macron of France is projected to come out ahead in crucial parliamentary elections. However, a strong showing from an alliance of left-wing parties and a far-right surge prevented Macron’s coalition from securing an absolute majority of seats — a setback that could complicate his second term.

Projections based on preliminary vote counts show Macron’s coalition winning 205 to 250 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, the lower and more powerful house of Parliament. The number of seats captured exceeds that won by any other political group but falls short of half. The lack of a majority will force Macron to reach across the aisle and may hinder his ambitious agenda.

If the projections hold, it will be the first time in 20 years that a president who had just won an election will have failed to muster an absolute majority in the National Assembly.

Apathy: The vote was marred by record-low turnout: Only about 46 percent of the French electorate went to the ballot box, according to projections, the second-lowest level since 1958. Voter abstention has become a growing concern in France and a warning sign for Macron, who has promised to rule closer to the people during his second term.

Gustavo Petro, Colombia’s next president.Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times

Colombia elects a new leader

For the first time, Colombia will have a leftist president.

Gustavo Petro, a former rebel and a longtime senator who has pledged to transform the country’s economic system, defeated his opponent, Rodolfo Hernández, a construction magnate who had energized the country with a scorched-earth anti-corruption platform.

Petro’s victory reflects widespread discontent in Colombia, a country of 50 million. Poverty and inequality are on the rise, and there is widespread dissatisfaction with a lack of opportunity — issues that sent hundreds of thousands of people to demonstrate in the streets last year. Petro has called for a halt to oil exploration, a shift toward developing other industries, an expansion of social programs and higher taxes on the rich.

The win is all the more significant because of the country’s history. For decades, the government fought a brutal leftist insurgency known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, with the stigma from the conflict making it difficult for a legitimate left to flourish.

Backdrop: The rise of armed groups is threatening to once again tear Colombia apart.


World News

Credit…Esdras Tsongo/Reuters
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo shut its border with Rwanda after a firefight that left one Congolese soldier dead and two Rwandan police officers wounded reportedly inside Rwandan territory.

  • More than 200 people were killed in Ethiopia in an attack that witnesses said had targeted mostly ethnic Amhara people.

  • Thousands of young Indians participated in violent demonstrations to protest cutbacks that they say will shatter their dreams of getting secure jobs in the military.

News from Europe

Credit…Sean Gallup/Getty Images
  • Germany will restart coal-fired power plants amid concerns about a looming supply shortage after Russia cut gas deliveries to Europe this week.

  • A new British government program would fit some asylum seekers with GPS trackers, drawing condemnation from refugee organizations that say people seeking haven are being treated like criminals.

  • The British government approved an extradition order for Julian Assange, the embattled founder of WikiLeaks, confirming that he can be sent to the U.S. to stand trial on espionage charges.

What Else Is Happening

  • A coordinated, multiyear strategy by Republican attorneys general and conservative allies to tilt courts against climate change is being put to the test this month at the Supreme Court.

  • A third person was arrested in connection with the killings of a British journalist and a Brazilian expert on Indigenous groups, both of whom went missing while deep in the Amazon.

  • FINA, the international swimming federation, barred transgender women from competing if they have gone through male puberty.

A Morning Read

Credit…Seif Kousmate for The New York Times

For centuries after the expulsion from Spain, Morocco’s Sephardic Jewish women sang of love, loss and identity. Today, most of those women, members of Morocco’s dwindling Jewish population, are gone. But they have left behind a rich historical trove, passed on from one generation to the next through oral history, that scholars of Judaism are striving to preserve before it disappears.


Credit…Ciril Jazbec for The New York Times

A grayer tattoo palette

In January, new regulations on tattoo inks and permanent makeup began taking effect across the E.U, prohibiting some pigments that were deemed potentially hazardous.

The regulations caused a seismic shift in the industry, with ink manufacturers reformulating entire product lines to comply. But the move has also provoked an uproar among tattooists who have argued that the restrictions are overly broad and undermine their art.

Modern tattoo inks are complex concoctions. There are over 40,000 chemicals known to be in commercial use, and little is known about the hazards they pose. Upon injection, some pigment remains permanently in the skin but can also migrate to the lymph nodes. Neurotoxic agents like cadmium, lead and arsenic have been documented in some inks in high concentrations.

Alex De Pase, who also owns a chain of nine tattoo parlors in Italy, said his staff threw out their old color inks at the end of 2021 and spent the first three weeks of this year working only in black and gray. Now his studios are spending about 5,000 euros a month to stock new colored inks. He said that he’s satisfied with their performance but that it would take years to see how they endured in the skin of his customers.

“Safety must come first,” he said, adding that needs to be balanced against some tolerance for risk. “There is a fine line.”


What to Cook

Credit…Christopher Testani for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini.

In this recipe for peanut butter-glazed salmon and green beans, the peanut butter is a shortcut ingredient, used to anchor the savory five-ingredient sauce.

What to Read

Our colleague Molly Young, from the Read Like the Wind newsletter, has suggestions for summer beach reads.

What to Listen To

In Drake’s new album, “Honestly, Nevermind,” the pop disrupter opts for a new direction: nightclub abandon.


How useful are supplements? Take our quiz to test your knowledge.


Here’s how to feel better naked.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and a clue: Dangler in the throat (five letters).

And here’s today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining us. —Jonathan and Matthew

P.S. The Society of Publishers in Asia announced the Carlos Tejada Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting, an award renamed in honor of Carlos, our deputy Asia editor, who died in December.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the Jan. 6 hearings.

You can reach Jonathan, Matthew and the team at

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