Your Friday Briefing: The Putin-Xi summit

Plus Europe’s tilt to the right continues, and Roger Federer is retiring.
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By Amelia Nierenberg

Writer, Briefings

Good morning. We’re covering a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping and Roger Federer’s upcoming retirement.

Vladimir Putin met with Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan yesterday.Pool photo by Alexandr Demyanchuk/Sputnik

Putin said Xi has concerns over war

Beijing’s support for Moscow’s war in Ukraine looks shakier after Xi Jinping, China’s leader, met with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, at an in-person summit in Uzbekistan yesterday.

In remarks after the meeting, Putin said Moscow understood that China had “questions and concerns” about the war. It was a notable, if cryptic, admission that Beijing may not fully approve of the invasion. Xi also steered clear of any mention of Ukraine in public remarks.

Taken together, it was a sign that Russia lacked the full backing of its most powerful international partner. It also comes at a time when the Russian military is trying to recover from a humiliating rout in northeastern Ukraine in recent days. Putin is also facing growing criticism inside Russia. Here are live updates.

Context: The two authoritarian leaders met during a summit meant to signal the strength of their partnership. The meeting was particularly important to Putin, whom the U.S. and its allies have further isolated since the war.

China: In February, before the invasion and the start of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, the two countries issued a joint statement describing their partnership as having “no limits.” Yesterday, Xi struck a more subdued tone, carefully avoiding any endorsement of specific Russian policies and instead offering generalities about China’s and Russia’s views of the world.

Ulf Kristersson, the head of the center-right Moderate Party, is expected to lead Sweden’s new government.Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Europe tilts right, again

In Sweden, right-wing parties combined to win a remarkable, if slim, election victory in Parliamentary elections on Wednesday, as European politics shifted again.

The Swedish Social Democratic Party, a center-left party and the main party in the current governing coalition, grabbed the highest percentage of votes as an individual party, but not enough to stay in power. The most stunning development was that the Sweden Democrats, a party with neo-Nazi roots, took second place. The party will not be part of the governing coalition, but it is expected to have a powerful influence on it.

“This would grab attention in any country, but especially in Sweden, a country that is known for egalitarian social democracy,” Amanda Taub writes in our sister newsletter “The Interpreter.”

It’s also part of a pattern. Sweden is just the latest European democracy — joining France, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Estonia and others — whose far-right parties are regularly able to command electoral support.

Italy: Giorgia Meloni, a hard-right politician whose party descended from post-Fascist roots, is the favorite to become the next prime minister in this month’s election.

The bodies of two children were discovered in suitcases in Auckland last month.Dean Purcell/New Zealand Herald, via Associated Press

Arrest in a New Zealand murder case

A 42-year-old woman was arrested in South Korea yesterday in connection with the unsolved murders of two children in New Zealand.

It was the latest development in an investigation that began in New Zealand last month, after the children’s remains were found in two suitcases that had been purchased in an online auction, along with other unclaimed household items from an Auckland storage facility.

The police in South Korea said that the woman, who is a New Zealand citizen born in South Korea, was believed to be the children’s mother. The New Zealand authorities are now seeking her extradition on murder charges.

Investigation: The New Zealand police said the bodies could have been in the storage facility for four years. They added that the children, whose names have not been released, were between 5 and 10 years old at the time of their deaths, but they did not say how they died.

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The floods in Pakistan are the deadliest in a recent string of eye-popping weather extremes across the Northern Hemisphere.Asif Hassan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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“We’re not here for the monarchy — we are here for her,” one woman said, of Queen Elizabeth II.Andrew Testa for The New York Times
A Morning Read
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The ebb and flow of San Francisco’s fog has long defined life along California’s coast. Now, some scientists fear that climate change is making it disappear.

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ARTS AND IDEAS

Ben Solomon for The New York Times

Roger Federer’s last lap

Roger Federer is retiring. The Swiss star, who won 20 Grand Slam singles titles, dominated men’s tennis for two decades.

“I am 41 years old, I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years,” Federer said on social media. “Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamed and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.”

Federer said injuries and surgeries had taken their toll on his body. He said he would continue to play but that he would no longer compete on the ATP Tour or in Grand Slam tournaments, like Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. His final competitive matches will be next week in London. Here are photos from his career.

For more: “His anticipation and court sense are otherworldly, and his footwork is the best in the game,” David Foster Wallace wrote an appraisal of Federer’s game in 2006. “All this is true, and yet none of it really explains anything or evokes the experience of watching this man play.”

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook
Christopher Testani for The New York Times

Chickpeas add a garlicky crunch to this stew, laden with greens, feta and lemon.

What to Read

Read your way through Helsinki, Finland.

Destination

Tinos, a Greek island, is beautiful — and extraordinarily windy. Just ask Jason Horowitz, our Rome bureau chief.

Now Time to Play

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

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

P.S. Michael Slackman, who has led the International desk since 2016, will take on a new leadership role overseeing the daily news report.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on abortion in the U.S.

You can reach Amelia and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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