Your Monday Briefing: Ukraine gains ground

Plus China locks down Xinjiang and floods devastate Pakistan’s agriculture.
Author Headshot

By Amelia Nierenberg

Writer, Briefings

Good morning. We’re covering Ukrainian gains in territory and a lockdown in Xinjiang, a region in western China.

The successful Ukrainian offensive began near Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.Nicole Tung for The New York Times

Ukraine strikes a major blow

Ukraine has been moving forward in a lightning advance that appears to have reshaped the war and smashed what had been a monthslong stalemate.

Ukrainian forces appear to have driven Russian troops from almost all of the Kharkiv region, in the northeast. Ukrainian officials said on Saturday that the military had retaken Izium, a strategically important railway hub that Russian forces seized in the spring after a bloody, weekslong battle.

The rapid gains — Ukraine’s most significant since April — have profoundly weakened Russia’s grip on eastern Ukraine, which it has used as a stronghold. Yesterday, Ukraine claimed additional territory and was poised to advance on more towns held by Moscow. Here are live updates and a map of where Russian forces are retreating in northeastern Ukraine.

Reaction: In Russia, once-vocal supporters of the invasion criticized President Vladimir Putin. In Ukraine, the push has buoyed spirits and galvanized calls for even more Western military support.

Nuclear: Ukraine has begun shutting down the Zaporizhzhia power plant, a safety measure as fighting continues around the facility.

China: Russia said a senior Chinese official offered Beijing’s most robust endorsement yet of the invasion.

The complaints from Xinjiang led to a surge of online comments in China.China News Service, via Reuters

China’s lockdowns hit Xinjiang

Yining, a city in the Xinjiang region of western China, is under a grueling, weekslong pandemic lockdown. Residents say they face a lack of food and medicine, as well as a drastic shortage of sanitary pads for women.

Many of Yining’s 600,000 residents are relying mostly on neighborhood officials to deliver supplies. But it appears to be insufficient: One resident told The Times that he received food every five days, but that there was little of nutritional value — no fruit, vegetables or meat. Other residents said they just hadrice, naan or instant noodles.

People in other Chinese cities, such as Shanghai, complained loudly about similar shortages and conditions after long shutdowns. But Yining has gotten little national attention; Xinjiang is an ethnically divided region that has been under an intense crackdown aimed at Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other largely Muslim minorities.

Context: Last month, the U.N.’s human rights office said Beijing’s mass detentions of predominantly Muslim groups in Xinjiang “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”

Floodwater now covers around a third of Pakistan, including its agricultural belt.Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

Floods threaten Pakistan’s crops

Pakistan is facing a looming food crisis after monsoon rains last week exacerbated months of record flooding, which has killed more than 1,300 people — nearly half of whom are children.

The waters have crippled the country’s agricultural sector: Nearly all of Pakistan’s crops have been damaged. So have thousands of livestock, as well as stores of wheat and fertilizer. More rain is predicted in the coming weeks.

The water could derail the upcoming planting season, leading to further insecurity at a time when global wheat supplies are already precarious. The country is one of the world’s top exporters of rice and cotton, both of which have been devastated by the floods.

Pakistan is already reeling from an economic crisis and double-digit inflation that has sent prices of basic goods soaring. The destruction could also deepen political tensions that have churned since Imran Khan was ousted as prime minister last spring.

Reaction: Officials have called the floods a climate disaster of epic proportions. Around 33 million have been displaced, and aid officials fear a second wave of deaths from food shortages and diseases transmitted by contaminated water.

What’s next: The damage from the flood will most likely be “far greater” than initial estimates of around $10 billion, according to the country’s planning minister.



Asia and the Pacific
Taiwanese soldiers shot down a drone recently and are ramping up defenses.Wu Hong/EPA, via Shutterstock
The British Monarchy
Queen Elizabeth II’s body will lie in state in Edinburgh until tomorrow before continuing on to London. Oli Scarff/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Around the World
Sweden has some of the highest rates of gun homicides in Europe.Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times
What Else Is Happening
Iga Swiatek celebrated her victory.Karsten Moran for The New York Times
A Morning Read
The Hasidic Jewish community has long operated one of New York’s largest private schools on its own terms, resisting any outside scrutiny of how its students are faring.Jonah Markowitz for The New York Times

New York’s Hasidic leaders have denied children a basic education, a Times investigation has found. Some Yeshiva schools focus on religious instruction at the expense of English and math.

They have also benefited from $1 billion in government funding in the last four years but are unaccountable to outside oversight.

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A look back at Venice

“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” a documentary directed by Laura Poitras, won the Golden Lion for best film at the 79th Venice International Film Festival. That’s quite a victory: documentaries rarely take the top prize.

The festival — which continued in-person throughout the pandemic even when other such celebrations went dark — thrived this year. Our fashion critic, Vanessa Friedman, wrote that the festival “solidified its position as the most glamorous red carpet of the year.”

Stars such as Timothée Chalamet and Ana de Armas enthralled the robust crowds, and there was no shortage of critical debate — or buzzy gossip.

The festival augurs drama and triumphs to come, Kyle Buchanan writes: “When it comes to the real kickoff for Oscar season — the mad crush of prestige films, A-list cocktail parties and awards-show buzz that churns all fall and winter — it’s the Venice Film Festival that fires the starting pistol.”


What to Cook
Bryan Gardner for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

Add grated zucchini to your turkey burgers.

What to Watch

Here are 40 shows to watch this fall. The Emmy Awards begin soon after this newsletter sends, at 8 a.m. in Hong Kong or 10 a.m. in Sydney.

What to Read

Siddhartha Mukherjee has written blockbuster books about cancer and genes. “The Song of the Cell” delves into what he describes as “the units that organize our life.”

Modern Love

She ran from her emotions. Now she relishes them.

Now Time to Play

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

P.S. The morning after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, more Wordle players than usual tried QUEEN as their first guess.

The Daily” is about Queen Elizabeth II.

You can reach Amelia and the team at


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