Your Monday Briefing: Russia Recalibrates Its Attack

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Good morning. We’re covering Russia’s recalibration of its Ukrainian strategy, a landmark summit in Israel and economic turmoil in Sri Lanka.


Ukrainian soldiers with anti-tank weapons north of Kyiv on Thursday.
Credit...Gleb Garanich/Reuters

As the war turns unpredictable, Russia may change tactics: Instead of capturing all of Ukraine, Moscow may try to split the country by consolidating territory in the east and south.

On Friday, as its advance stalled, Russia signaled a possible recalibration of its aims. Its military said that the “first stage” of its operation was mostly done and that it would focus on securing Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where Russia-backed separatists have battled for years.

On Sunday, Ukraine said that Russian troops were withdrawing through Chernobyl to regroup in Belarus, though the forces continued to shell towns around Kyiv and encircled the city of Chernihiv, stranding thousands of civilians. Here are live updates.

Ukrainian forces mounted a counteroffensive in the Kyiv suburbs to block Russia’s route to the capital. Ukraine has also prevented the Russian military from encircling Kharkiv, and it claimed on Sunday that its soldiers had won back two villages on the outskirts.


Credit...Ilan Ben Zion/Associated Press

Top diplomats from Israel, Egypt, the U.A.E., Bahrain, Morocco and the U.S. met in the Negev desert on Sunday. The summit — the first with so many Arab, American and Israeli officials on Israeli soil — signifies a realignment of Middle Eastern powers.

Unimaginable half a decade ago, the high-level meeting reflects the new political reality created when Israel sealed landmark diplomatic agreements with the U.A.E., Bahrain and Morocco in 2020.

Polls suggest that many Arabs do not support normalizing ties with Israel. But the fate of Palestinians now seem of less immediate importance to key Arab governments than the threat of Iran.

Diplomacy: Washington helped Israel broker the normalization. Now, Israel is becoming a more public bridge between Arab governments and their longtime benefactor, the U.S.

Analysis: The countries are working to navigate the global realities of the Ukraine war. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will urge the five governments to increase their support of Ukraine. Israel and Morocco have avoided condemning Russia, and the U.A.E. has dodged American demands to increase its oil production in order to help American allies find alternatives to Russian gas.


Credit...Atul Loke for The New York Times

Food and fuel are suddenly either unavailable or exorbitantly priced in Sri Lanka. The country’s enormous debt load, the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Europe have kneecapped the economy.

Protests are now rising against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a hawkish leader with a reputation for brutality, and opposition leaders are eyeing an opportunity.

But Rajapaksa is fighting back. After people staged candlelight vigils to protest rampant blackouts, his government deployed troops to gas stations to quell unrest.

Background: This growing season, because of a poorly executed plan to reduce imports by going organic, Sri Lankan farmers were short of fertilizer. That resulted in a lack of rice, the country’s staple food. Inflation soared to a record high of 17.5 percent in February.

Analysis: After a civil war that ended in 2009, Sri Lanka became an upper-middle-income nation with an economy built on tourism. Now, the country is increasingly dependent on foreign assistance, battering its sense of itself as a rising economic star.

Quotable: “The question on everyone’s mind is: When is this going to absolutely crash?” one policy expert said. “Sri Lanka’s economy is experiencing multiple organ failure, and sepsis has set in,” another predicted.


Credit...U.S. National Ice Center, via Agence France-Presse —Getty Images


Credit...Pool photo by Chris Jackson


Credit...Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

Carlos San Juan de Laorden, a 78-year-old retired Spanish doctor, has Parkinson’s disease, which makes it difficult for him to withdraw money from an A.T.M. He’s now leading a campaign against banks closing branches and moving services online, one that resonates with a rapidly aging Spanish population.

The arrival of spring means many new books to dig into. The Times Book Review put together a preview of exciting titles to look out for.

In the world of fiction, there are sprawling family sagas and tales of time travel.

Mieko Kawakami, a feminist voice in Japan, has a new book, “All the Lovers in the Night,” coming out in translation. “Four Treasures of the Sky,” a debut by Jenny Tinghui Zhang, follows a Chinese girl in the 1880s who reinvents herself to survive a string of tragedies. And in “The Fervor,” Alma Katsu charts the eerie story of a mysterious disease spreading through a Japanese American internment camp during World War II.

For fans of nonfiction, the spring slate includes a memoir by Viola Davis and a biography of George Floyd by two Washington Post journalists.

There are also historical accounts, like “Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire,” “Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong” and “River of the Gods,” which delves into a yearslong journey in the 19th century to trace the Nile River to its source.


Credit...Christopher Simpson for The New York Times
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