Your Thursday Briefing - The New York Times

WORLD NEWS: Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

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As the war in Ukraine settles into a prolonged conflict that may last years, it is testing the resolve of Western countries, with European and American officials questioning whether the rising economic toll will erode their solidarity over time. Follow the latest updates from the war.

What fissures have so far presented themselves are mostly superficial, including restiveness in Paris with the Biden administration’s military ambitions. And yet there are signs of solidarity: Finland and Sweden edged closer to joining NATO on Wednesday, with Britain offering security assurances to gird against the Russian threat.

Yet 76 days into the fighting, the cascading effect on supply chains and energy pipelines will only be felt more acutely at gas pumps and on supermarket shelves. Some analysts believe Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is calculating that the West will be first to tire of a long struggle for Ukraine’s contested Donbas region.

Warnings: The Biden administration’s director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, said yesterday that Putin was digging in for a long siege and “probably counting on U.S. and E.U. resolve to weaken as food shortages, inflation and energy shortages get worse.”

Moscow long counted Bulgaria as its most ardent and reliable friend in Europe. But in recent weeks, the country has joined fellow members of the E.U. in imposing ever tougher economic sanctions on its former ally; offered to repair broken military helicopters and tanks for Ukraine; and expelled yet more Russian diplomats.

The rapid souring of relations with Bulgaria, a poor but symbolically important country because of its historically close ties to Russia, underscores how far off-script the invasion ordered by Putin has traveled. In response, Russia halted supplies of natural gas to Bulgaria by Gazprom last month.

Moscow has also launched cyberattacks, assaulting the server of Bulgaria’s state energy company and crippling pension payments by its Postal Service. “We are under severe attack at the moment,” said Kiril Petkov, the Bulgarian prime minister, describing this as a clear “attempt to derail our government” by stoking domestic unrest.

Quotable: “Traditionally, Russia has always had a big influence here, but we have been a big surprise to them,” Petkov said. “They don’t understand what happened.”

Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist for Al Jazeera, was fatally shot while reporting in the West Bank city of Jenin early yesterday. The news network, citing the Palestinian Health Ministry, said she had been shot in the head by Israeli forces during a raid. A second journalist was hospitalized after being shot in the back, the ministry said.

A veteran journalist, Abu Akleh was a household name across the Middle East. At the time of her death, she was wearing a protective vest that identified her as a member of the media. Another journalist present, Shatha Hanaysha, said she believed that she and other journalists had been targeted. Israeli forces, she said, “did not stop firing even after she collapsed.”

In an evening briefing, Israel’s minister of defense, Benny Gantz, said it was unclear what had happened. “It can be Palestinians who shot her,” he said. “Tragically, it may be on our side. We are investigating it.”

Quotable: “Al Jazeera holds the Israeli government and the occupation forces responsible for the killing of Shireen,” the news network said in a statement. “It also calls on the international community to condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable.”

Journalists at risk: At least 27 media workers have been killed while working or for reasons relating to their journalistic activities since Jan. 1, including seven in Ukraine and eight in Mexico, according to the nonprofit Reporters Without Borders.

“The classic diet slogan that made such an impression on me as a chubby child — ‘Inside every fat person, there is a skinny person waiting to get out’ — should, in my case, be reversed,” writes Sam Anderson, pictured above in sixth grade, in this personal essay on weight loss from The Times Magazine.

“No matter what my body happens to look like at any particular moment, Fat Sam lives inside me. I recognize now, in fact, that Fat Sam represents some of my best qualities: curiosity, cheerful appetite, a hunger for life, satisfaction in the moment.”

The Eurovision Song Contest is the world’s largest live music event. It is also almost certainly the kitschiest. This year’s competition takes place this week in Turin, Italy, where nations are going head-to-head for the (non-monetary) glory of a win, as well as a trophy shaped like a 1950s microphone. Here’s what you need to know.

66: Years since the contest started in 1956. (It was initially a friendly competition between public service television broadcasters.)

40: Countries participating in this year’s contest. In an unusually political move, the organizers have barred Russia from competing “in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine.”

1974: Year in which Abba won the competition, with the song “Waterloo.”

183 million: Total viewers of last year’s contest.

Three: Maximum length in minutes for each song, according to the contest’s rules.

33,938: Population of the smallest country competing — San Marino, a landlocked enclave within Italy.

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