Your Thursday Briefing

Volunteers fortifying the Princess Olga monument in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday.Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Tensions in Russia over the war in Ukraine

A day after Russia made claims of de-escalation, it increased bomb and artillery attacks in Ukraine and sent conflicting signals about the prospects for peace, suggesting new tensions in the Kremlin hierarchy about the course of the war. Follow the latest updates from the war.

New declassified U.S. intelligence assessment suggested that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, had been misinformed about the war’s trajectory by subordinates, who feared his reaction to the Russian military’s struggles and setbacks. Tensions appear to be increasing between Putin and the Ministry of Defense.

It was not clear whether the release of the declassified intelligence was intended to sow anxiety within Putin’s circle — or indeed whether the intelligence was accurate at all. White House officials said that they had released it to share what they said was a “full understanding” of how Putin had miscalculated.

Casualties: The U.N. said that at least 1,189 people had been killed so far in the war, although that is almost certainly an undercount.

On the ground: Ukrainian counterattacks have pushed back Russian forces in the northeast, as these maps show. Russia continued to shell Kyiv and Chernihiv.

In other news from the war:

  • President Biden is considering a plan to release one million barrels of oil a day from U.S. reserves for as long as 180 days.

  • “Like living in a horror movie”: In Huliaipole, a town on the front lines in eastern Ukraine, the war never stops.

  • Responding to a demand that Moscow be paid in rubles, Germany said it was prepared to ration natural gas if Russia cut its supplies. Russia found a workaround.

  • With the war disrupting the global energy supply, Britain’s fracking industry has won an 11th-hour reprieve.

A former hotel banquet coordinator, right, has joined rebel fighters in Myanmar.Credit…Adam Dean for The New York Times

Myanmar’s young rebels

More than a year after Myanmar’s military seized full control in a coup — imprisoning the nation’s elected leaders, killing more than 1,700 civilians and arresting at least 13,000 more — the country is at war.

On the one side, a military junta. On the other, thousands of young former city dwellers who have exchanged college courses, video games and sparkly nail polish for life and death in the jungle. At one encampment, 3,000 such militia members live in crude bamboo or tarpaulin shelters. They engage in battle almost daily.

These Generation Z warriors have thrown off balance a military that has long made war crimes its calling card. And the conflict is escalating, forcing Myanmar’s army to fight on dozens of fronts, from the borderlands near India, China and Thailand to the villages of the country’s heartland.

Quotable: “I am fighting because I don’t accept the military coup, and I don’t accept that they want to take democracy from us,” said one former midwife, who did not want her name used to protect her family members back home.

A mural of Vladimir Putin in Belgrade.Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Serbia sticks with Russia

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is not without admirers in Serbia. For the country’s television producers, he offers a boost to ratings; on a street in Belgrade, his face appears on a mural alongside the Serbian word for “brother.”

Part of Putin’s allure in Serbia lies in his image as a strongman, an appealing model for its own increasingly authoritarian leader, Aleksandar Vucic, as well as Viktor Orban, the belligerently illiberal leader of neighboring Hungary. Opinion polls suggest both men will win in upcoming elections.

To many Serbs, Russia is a fellow Slavic and Orthodox Christian nation that has served as an unwavering friend and protector over the centuries. Putin is a lodestar for nations whose politics and psyche revolve around cults of victimhood nurtured by resentment and grievance against the West.

History: A sense of victimhood runs deep in Serbia, viewing crimes committed by ethnic kin during the Balkan wars of the 1990s as a defensive response to suffering visited on Serbs. NATO’S bombing of the country more than 20 years ago has left wounds that are still unhealed.


Around the World

Credit…Mohammed Huwais/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • In Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi rebels announced cease-fires yesterday, possible progress toward an end to the country’s seven-year war.

  • Two British judges resigned from Hong Kong’s highest court, citing the territory’s departure “from values of political freedom and freedom of expression.”

  • The five victims of Israel’s deadliest terrorist attack in years highlight the diversity and complexity of Israeli society.

News From the U.S.

Credit…Michael A. McCoy for The New York Times
  • Senator Susan Collins plans to back Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination, becoming the first Republican to do so.

  • Will Smith refused to leave the Academy Awards when asked after slapping Chris Rock during the ceremony, organizers said. Disciplinary proceedings are underway.

  • Bruce Willis will step away from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, which disrupts people’s ability to speak, read and write.

Science & Nature

  • Burmese pythons, which found their way to Florida through the pet industry, wreak havoc on the state’s mammal and bird populations. But the native bobcat might be able to help.

  • People who grow up in gridlike cities tend to struggle with navigation, compared with those who come from more rural areas or more intricate cities, a new study has found.

  • Health experts in the U.S. said there was insufficient evidence that an experimental therapy for A.L.S. is effective in treating the devastating neurological disorder.

A Morning Read

Credit…John Humbert

Flamingo No. 492, which fled a Kansas zoo in 2005, has defied the odds to live a Pixar-worthy life in the wilds of Texas.


L.G.B.T.Q. romance is booming

L.G.B.T.Q. romance novels have for decades been a quiet presence, almost entirely self-published or released by small niche presses and often shelved separately from other romances in bookstores. Now, they are now coming from the biggest publishers in the industry.

In many ways, this echoes a broader cultural shift. Gay characters were once confined to niche markets, or to peripheral roles and tragic endings in the mainstream — a tendency that spawned the sardonic catchphrase “bury your gays.”

No longer: An L.G.B.T.Q. romance novel, in fact, promises L.G.B.T.Q. characters at its center, and a happy ending for the main couple (or thruple!).

“People want to see themselves,” said Laynie Rose Rizer of East City Bookshop in Washington, D.C. “Customers will come in and say, ‘I just want something that’s gay and happy.’ And I’m like, ‘I have 10 different options for you.’”

Read more about L.G.B.T.Q. romance in the mainstream.


What to Cook

Credit…Sang An for The New York Times. Food Stylist; Simon Andrews.

This comforting one-pot chicken dish features fragrant coconut rice infused with ginger, garlic and scallion.

What to Watch

Over eight episodes, “Julia” presents an intermittently charming account of Julia Child’s life.

What to Read

“Sea of Tranquility,” a new novel by Emily St. John Mandel, is a “dazzling” work of speculative fiction, our critic says.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Old MacDonald” refrain (five letters).

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 me. — Natasha

P.S. The Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism recognized reporting by The Times.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Clarence and Ginni Thomas.

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

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