Thursday Briefing: Ukraine lowers the draft age

Also, dozens remain trapped after the earthquake in Taiwan.
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Morning Briefing: Asia Pacific Edition

April 4, 2024

Good morning. We’re covering Ukraine’s plan to replenish its army and the quake in Taiwan.

Plus, how pro soccer adapted to Ramadan.

People in military uniform climbing up and over a piece of training equipment.
New Ukrainian recruits training last year. Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Ukraine lowered the draft age

President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law lowering the draft age from 27 to 25 and eliminated some medical exemptions in an effort to replenish Ukraine’s exhausted army. He also created an electronic database of men, starting at age 17, to crack down on draft dodgers.

Parliament passed the legislation last May, but Zelensky delayed signing it in the hope that he wouldn’t need it. Most men who wanted to volunteer had already done so, and small anti-draft protests had broken out before the new laws were passed.

But, as a lawmaker in the opposition put it, Zelensky “has no choice.”

Russia’s assault is unrelenting, and Ukrainian generals have warned of a broader attack in the spring or summer. Ukraine’s army is running low on ammunition, and many of its soldiers have been on continual combat duty for two years.

What’s next: Ukraine is expected, at best, to hold the existing front lines this year — but only if an influx of U.S. weapons arrives, analysts say.

Risks: Ukraine has a small generation of 20-year-olds, because birthrates plummeted during the 1990s. Drafting men at age 25 could further diminish those numbers and jeopardize future birthrates, leaving the country without enough working- and draft-age men decades from now.

NATO: The alliance’s top diplomat said it was poised to take more control over military support to Ukraine — a role that the U.S. has played — as American aid to Ukraine stalls and the prospect of a second Donald Trump presidency looms.

People in yellow suits and red helmets approach a building that is leaning toward the street.
Search and rescue teams prepared to enter a leaning building in Taiwan. Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Dozens remain trapped in Taiwan

At least 71 people were still trapped in two mining areas of Taiwan, and dozens of others were stranded after a magnitude-7.4 earthquake rocked the island yesterday morning, officials said. At least nine people died and more than 1,000 others were injured in the quake, Taiwan’s strongest in 25 years.

The quake toppled buildings across Taiwan and left two in the city of Hualien teetering perilously. As of last night, there were more than 200 aftershocks, with at least one tremor of magnitude 6.5. Officials warned of more aftershocks and, with rain in the forecast, possible landslides in the coming days.

Context: Taiwan’s earthquake preparedness has evolved over the past few decades. In 1999, a magnitude-7.6 quake killed nearly 2,500 people.

Two men embrace, and the one facing the camera appears to be crying. A third man looks on; he’s wearing a black T-shirt with “World Central Kitchen” on it.
Relatives and friends mourned the death of one of the seven workers. Said Khatib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Attacks slow aid to Gaza

A deadly Israeli strike Monday on an aid convoy run by World Central Kitchen in Gaza has set back attempts to address a hunger crisis in the territory. The nonprofit stopped its operations in Gaza and sent three ships with hundreds of tons of food back to Cyprus. Other groups said they were being more cautious about deliveries.

Israeli’s military chief of staff said yesterday that the killings were “a grave mistake” — an unusually direct acknowledgment of fault. President Biden said that the deaths were not a “stand-alone incident,” adding that Israel has not done enough to protect civilians in the war.

World Central Kitchen: The group has become a leader in emergency relief by using local chefs and recipes to feed people in disaster zones. In an essay in The Times, José Andrés, the chef and founder, called on Israel to open more land routes in Gaza for food and medicine.

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MORE TOP NEWS

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The legislation calls for life imprisonment for anyone who engages in gay sex. Isaac Kasamani/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Uganda: A court largely upheld the strict and sweeping anti-gay law.
  • Trump: A judge rejected his last bid to delay a criminal case, removing one of the final obstacles to the first prosecution of a former U.S. president.
  • Europe: The annual inflation rate in many countries eased for the third month in a row, nearing the target set by the European Central Bank.
  • South Africa: The leader of the national assembly resigned. She faces corruption accusations.
  • Russia: The U.S. warned Moscow that Islamic State terrorists were planning an attack on the concert venue where 144 people were killed, U.S. officials said.
  • Asylum: The U.S. is on track to admit 125,000 refugees this year, the most in three decades. If elected, Trump will likely reverse that trend.
  • Canada: A lawmaker accused of benefiting from Beijing’s help testified that students from China were bused in to vote for him in a party election.
  • Ye: A former employee sued the rapper for creating a hostile work environment, accusing him of praising Adolf Hitler.

MORNING READ

A player kneeled on the playing field while eating, as another player drank from a squeeze bottle and others stood on the field during a Ramadan break.
Players can take advantage of league-sanctioned halts in play to break their fasts. ProShots/Icon Sport, via Getty Images

Muslim professional soccer stars once faced pressure to avoid daily fasts during Ramadan.

Now, players in some European leagues benefit from custom diets, fast-friendly practice schedules and league-approved breaks. It’s a sign of the increasing prevalence — and the soaring value — of the sports’ Muslim stars.

Lives lived: Maryse Condé, a titan of Francophone literature, died at 90.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

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IDEAS

People working at tables with sewing machines inside a factory with cloth material.
A factory in Bangladesh, which built its success on turning farmers into textile workers. Atul Loke for The New York Times

A new economic route for poor nations to rise

For more than half a century, developing countries successfully lifted millions out of poverty by moving subsistence farmers into manufacturing jobs, and then selling what they make to the rest of the world.

But technology is advancing, supply chains are shifting and political tensions are reshaping trade patterns. The changes are diminishing this once-reliable cycle, and doubts are growing about whether industrialization can still deliver the miracle growth it once did.

Service jobs could offer an alternative. Some multinationals have set up operation hubs in India, where workers handle accounting or develop cybersecurity systems. Those jobs are part of what has made India the fifth-largest economy, and Deloitte, a consulting group, predicts half a million more such jobs there in the next few years.

RECOMMENDATIONS

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Cook: For something simple and soothing, make everyday dal.

Read: Rebel Wilson writes frankly about weight loss, sexuality and money in a new memoir.

Listen: These five minutes will make you love the pianist and vocalist Shirley Horn.

Strengthen: Exercise can improve your cognitive and mental health.

Play Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow. — Amelia

We welcome your feedback. Send us your suggestions at briefing@nytimes.com.

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