Your Friday Briefing: A crucial moment in the Ukraine war

Plus the U.S. begins Jan. 6 hearings and Chinese pilots provoke U.S. allies.
Author Headshot

By Amelia Nierenberg

Writer, Briefings

Good morning. We’re covering Ukraine’s fight for the Donbas and the start of Jan. 6 hearings in the U.S.

A bridge, now destroyed by Russian forces, that once led into Sievierodonetsk.Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Donbas’s fate is ‘being decided’

President Volodymyr Zelensky described the battle for Sievierodonetsk as a crucial moment in what is increasingly a war of attrition in eastern Ukraine. “The fate of our Donbas is being decided there,” he said.

Ukrainian forces are outgunned by the Russians. The city is burning as the sounds of gunfire echo from vicious street-by-street combat. If Sievierodonetsk and its sister city Lysychansk fall, Russia will control all of Luhansk, one of two provinces in the Donbas region.

Ukraine’s defense minister said his country “desperately needs heavy weapons, and very fast.”

Both sides are still struggling to control what Zelensky has called “dead cities” as Russian bombardment further destroys the metropolises in the east. Here are live updates.

Deaths: Ukraine is keeping its casualty numbers secret. But on the front lines, fresh graves show how relentless the fighting has become.

Rep. Dan Kildee, a committee member, spoke before the start of the hearing.Doug Mills/The New York Times

The U.S. begins Jan. 6 hearings

The House panel investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol will open public hearings in Washington to begin setting out the findings from its nearly yearlong investigation.

Lawmakers plan to start the session by presenting previously unreleased video testimony from people close to Donald Trump. They will also share footage revealing the role of the far-right group the Proud Boys in the riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

The committee intends to paint a picture of Trump at the center of a coordinated effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election that led to the attack. We have live updates.

“We’ll demonstrate the multipronged effort to overturn a presidential election, how one strategy to subvert the election led to another, culminating in a violent attack on our democracy,” said Representative Adam Schiff of California, a Democrat and a member of the committee.

Details: The first hearing begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time (that’s 8 a.m. in Hong Kong). A total of six hearings are planned for this month.

Resources: The Times has constructed an exhaustive timeline of the attack — the planning beforehand, the events at the Capitol and the preparation for the hearings.

Trump: Lawyers plan to question the former president under oath as part of a separate investigation into his business practices led by the New York State attorney general’s office.

A Chinese J-16 fighter jet.Taiwan Ministry of Defense, via Associated Press

Chinese pilots provoke U.S. allies

Australia and Canada say Chinese military jets have harassed their planes in recent weeks, sometimes flying so close that the pilots could see each other.

Beijing says the maneuvers are reasonable responses to foreign military patrols that threaten its security. But the two U.S. allies worry the pilots’ actions could lead to midair collisions.

Any such mishap in the Asia Pacific could ignite an international incident at a time when tensions are rising between China and the West.

Background: In 2001, a Chinese fighter jet collided with a U.S. Navy surveillance plane, leading to tense negotiations and an apology from the U.S. Beijing has honored the fallen pilot, Wang Wei, whose confrontational way of flying is held up as a model for new Chinese pilots to emulate, an expert said.

Details: The Chinese pilots have repeatedly buzzed a Canadian plane monitoring North Korea in recent weeks, and one plane sprayed metallic chaff in the path of an Australian surveillance aircraft.

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THE LATEST NEWS

Asia
South Korean rescue teams and firefighters on the scene yesterday.Lee Mu-Yeol/NEWSIS, via Associated Press
  • Vietnam’s health minister and Hanoi’s mayor were arrested in connection with a corruption scandal involving coronavirus test kits.
  • Thailand became the first Asian country to legalize growing and possessing marijuana, The Associated Press reported.
World News
  • The U.S. House passed a package of gun control measures, but the bill stands no chance of becoming law because of Republican opposition in the Senate.
  • President Biden opened the Summit of the Americas, which is focused on immigration and regional economic ties. Several prominent Latin American leaders are skipping the meeting. Here are live updates.
  • As inflation continues to rise, the European Central Bank says that it will raise interest rates next month for the first time in 11 years.
The Middle East
  • Iran began dismantling the U.N. monitoring system of its nuclear program, just as the U.N. nuclear agency said it was only weeks away from producing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.
What Else Is Happening
A Morning Read
Dom Phillips, center, interviewing Indigenous Brazilians in 2019.Joao Laet/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Dom Phillips, a British journalist, and Bruno Pereira, a Brazilian expert on Indigenous groups, disappeared in the Amazon after facing threats. They had gone to interview Indigenous people who patrol parts of the dense jungle plagued by illegal fishing, hunting and mining, a problem exacerbated by government budget cuts under President Jair Bolsonaro. They have not been seen since Sunday.

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ARTS AND IDEAS

A controversial golf tour

An upstart professional golf circuit, the LIV Series, held its first event yesterday in Britain. The tour has attracted stars including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson to help it compete with the dominant PGA Tour.

But it has also attracted scorn because of its biggest investor: the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. Yesterday, the PGA Tour said it had suspended the 17 players who had taken part.

Why are golfers going to LIV? The Saudis’ remarkably large purse. Mickelson was reportedly paid $200 million to join, and Johnson $150 million. The prize money for this weekend’s event alone is $25 million; Tiger Woods, by contrast, has won $120 million over his entire PGA career.

What’s the controversy? Critics have accused Saudi Arabia of using its oil profits to buy major sports organizations and sanitize its image. Mickelson lost endorsements after joining, and he acknowledged that Saudi Arabia had a “horrible record on human rights,” including the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

What is the PGA’s reaction? It has aggressively sought to thwart the Saudi tour. The PGA has said that it will discipline players who compete and that it could bar them from most major American golf events.

The latest: A news conference yesterday grew tense as players evaded questions about Saudi Arabia’s record. — Tom Wright-Piersanti, a Morning editor

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook
Kelly Marshall for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Roscoe Betsill. Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks.

Sumac powder adds tang to this strawberry cake made with cornmeal.

What to Watch

Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum are back for “Jurassic World Dominion.” Their chemistry is intact.

Social Qs

Our columnist responds to a reader who wonders if she should tell her parents that she is upset that her brother and each of his children will inherit the same amount as she does.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Tree creatures in “The Lord of the Rings” (four letters).

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. Sign up for Gameplay, our new weekly newsletter of puzzles, brain teasers and more.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the Proud Boys.

Tom Wright-Piersanti wrote today’s Arts & Ideas. You can reach Amelia and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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