Your Thursday briefing: mixed signals from Russia
Hello. We cover the puzzling aftermath of the Russian-Ukrainian peace talks, the tightening of security in Israel and young soldiers in Myanmar.
Russia sends mixed signals
Pessimism replaces optimism about Ukraine, as Russia sends mixed military and diplomatic signals. After apparent progress in Tuesday’s peace talks in Istanbul, Wednesday saw fresh attacks on the outskirts of kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv, areas where Russia has said it will scale back combat operations .
The confusion does not just come from a mismatch between words and actions. On Wednesday, the top Kremlin spokesman said there had been little progress. A few hours later, its chief negotiator declared that Ukraine was on the right track to “build normal and, I hope, good neighborly relations with Russia”.
US intelligence has suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin was misinformed about the invasion by aides fearing his reaction, stoking tensions with his defense ministry.
On the ground, the humanitarian situation is deteriorating. “It’s like living in a horror movie,” said a resident of Huliaipole, a town on the edge of the Donbass region. Four million people have fled Ukraine, including two million children, the UN reported.
Israel steps up security after attacks
The army and police stepped up their presence on the ground Wednesday morning after a Palestinian gunman killed five people in an ultra-Orthodox community outside Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening.
The Bnei Brak attack, the fifth shooting in less than two weeks, brought the total death toll to 11 in recent days. It made March one of the deadliest months in Israel, outside of a full-scale war, in several years. Most of the victims were Israeli Jews.
Analysts fear more intense violence over the next month, during the rare convergence of Ramadan, Passover and Easter. In Jerusalem, more Jews and Muslims are expected to try to enter the Temple Mount or the Aqsa Mosque compound during the overlapping holidays.
Details: The attack came two days after another gun attack in northern Israel, alarming security officials as the use of firearms involved a level of planning typically absent from recent terror attacks in Israel, most of which were carried out with knives.
Myanmar’s young rebels
More than a year after Myanmar’s military junta abruptly took control, the military is still fighting to hold on to power.
Their unlikely adversaries: A motley and determined army of former city dwellers: hoteliers, dentists, marketing managers, seminarians and others.
Two Times reporters visited a rainforest camp in eastern Myanmar, where some 3,000 Gen Z warriors live in bamboo or tarpaulin shelters and engage in almost daily combat. Outclassed and armed, the rebels unbalanced an army known for its war crimes.
Quoteable: “Peaceful protests don’t work if the enemy wants to kill us,” said a social worker turned militia sergeant.
Context: Apart from financial sanctions, the international community did little to punish the Burmese junta and did not recognize its shadow civilian government. The war in Ukraine could again distract the world’s attention.
THE LAST NEWS
In Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels announced a ceasefire yesterday, a possible step towards ending the country’s seven-year war.
Gunmen on Monday killed at least eight people on a Nigerian commuter train, leaving the country in a growing sense of insecurity.
Arab leaders have urged Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, to keep past promises and open US consulates in Jerusalem and the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
here are the latest updates and Maps of the pandemic.
What else is going on
A morning reading
Anchorage is home to the northernmost mosque in the United States. During Ramadan, the city’s diverse Muslim community will gather for nightly potlucks featuring dishes from around the world.
Sold: A legendary Indian mural
A stunning mural created in the 1800s depicting an 18th-century Indian battlefield went up for auction at Sotheby’s in London on Wednesday. It sold 630,000 books, or about $830,000. The buyer remains anonymous.
The mural shows the Muslim military commander Tipu Sultan at the Battle of Pollilur in 1780, triumphing over British forces. It was the first defeat of a European army in India.
Russo-Ukrainian War: Main Developments
“It is arguably the greatest surviving Indian picture of the defeat of colonialism,” said one scholar. “It’s a unique and fantastic work of art.”
In his day, Sultan was nicknamed the “Tiger of Mysore”, named after his home country, and was hated in Britain for his attacks on trading colonies. During the Indian independence movement of the 20th century, he was considered one of the first nationalist freedom fighters. But in modern India, where the ruling party has increasingly embraced Hindu nationalist rhetoric, officials have long downplayed Sultan’s achievements, saying he was responsible for many Hindu deaths.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook
The umami flavor of salami and olives makes this simple chicken dinner special.
What to watch
Try any of these three documentaries, including a look at a Japanese World War II veteran and a dive into footage from Vladimir Putin’s first year as President of Russia.
What to read
Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel “Sea of Tranquility,” her first since “Station Eleven,” is a “dazzling” work of speculative fiction, according to our reviewer.