Your Monday Briefing: Russian Forces Attack Evacuees

Your Monday Briefing: Russian Forces Attack Evacuees

Good morning. We’re covering sustained shelling in Ukraine, China’s new economic plan and the fallout of a terrorist attack on a mosque in Pakistan.

As Russian forces continued shelling Ukraine, at least three people — a mother and her children — were killed outside Kyiv as they tried to get to safety. For the second straight day, the authorities called off an evacuation from the besieged port city of Mariupol.

Here’s the latest.

Russian forces were struggling to advance on multiple fronts. The Ukrainian military said that it was successfully defending its position in fierce fighting north of Kyiv and that troops were also holding back Russians from the east, where President Vladimir Putin’s forces bogged down in clashes around an airport.

Families are being torn apart. Some Ukrainians are finding that their Russian relatives, hopped up on government misinformation, don’t believe there is a war. Others are splitting: Wives flee while husbands are forced to stay and fight, which some Ukrainian women referred to as “a little death.”

Flights: Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, repeated his calls for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone, despite bipartisan opposition from U.S. lawmakers and reluctance from European allies. On Saturday, Putin said that any countries that imposed one would be considered enemy combatants. The U.S. is discussing how to supply Polish Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine.

China detailed a plan to expand its economy, labeling stability as its “top priority.” The changes come as the national leader, Xi Jinping, is poised to claim a new term in power.

Despite global uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic and war in Ukraine, China’s leaders sought to project confidence and calm. The annual government work report delivered on Saturday did not even mention Russia’s invasion.

The implicit message appeared to be that China could weather European turbulence — and focus on keeping its people content and employed before a Communist Party meeting in the fall, when Xi is increasingly certain to extend his time in power.

Details: Beijing is calling for heavy government spending and lending. Social welfare and education outlays are both set to increase about 10 percent this year. China’s military budget will grow by 7.1 percent to about $229 billion — a signal that Beijing is preparing for an increasingly dangerous world.

Domestic policy: The plan suggests that China is prioritizing economic growth, with an expansion goal of “around 5.5 percent,” over domestic consumer spending. Beijing has been trying to move the economy away from dependence on debt-fueled infrastructure and housing construction.

The Islamic State’s regional affiliate, Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for bombing a Shiite mosque in Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan. The attack killed at least 63 people and wounded nearly 200 others.

Pakistani police said on Saturday that they had identified the suicide bomber and the network behind the attack. ISIS-K and Pakistani security officials both said the bomber was an Afghan national.

The Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim terrorist group that considers Shiites heretics, has claimed several previous attacks in Pakistan. This was the biggest and deadliest yet, and one of the worst terrorist attacks in Pakistan in years.

Background: ISIS-K formed in Afghanistan in 2015 and opened a Pakistan chapter in 2019. Security officials say the group continues to operate from Afghanistan but has been displaced by the Afghan Taliban. Officials believe that about 1,600 of its fighters escaped when the Taliban overran a prison outside Kabul in August.

Other bombings: Last fall, the group carried out bombings at Shiite mosques in Afghanistan, killing and wounding dozens.


The new leadership of Auroville, an experimental Indian commune founded in 1968, wants to turn it into a utopian model city. Backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the authorities are fighting residents who cherish their trees, tree houses and take-it-slow tradition.

The Saturday Profile: A Texan bombshell married an Italian prince. Now, she is fighting his sons for the crumbling Roman villa — listed in January for a whopping $531 million — where she continues to live after his death.

Elisa Gabbert has been reading “Musée des Beaux Arts,” a 1938 poem by W.H. Auden, for more than 20 years. The poem is inspired by a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, “Landscape With the Fall of Icarus.”

In Bruegel’s masterpiece, a ploughman does not appear to notice Icarus, half-submerged in the sea after his fall from the sun. “The painting is a comment on the fraught relation between attention and disaster — as is the poem: Something’s only a disaster if we notice it,” Elisa writes in a close reading of it for The Times.

“The message seems simple enough,” she continues, “but the poem is full of riches, hidden details that you might miss if, like a farmer with his head down — or a distracted museumgoer — you weren’t looking at the edges.”

Then, Elisa shows us those edges. She takes us through other hidden works referenced in the poem before drilling down into the structure of the piece. She also puts the meditation on suffering in context — despite his detached tone, Auden wrote the poem while Europe was on the brink of war.

One tip: The article is best read on a desktop computer.

What to Cook

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

P.S. Sabrina Tavernise will join “The Daily” as the show’s second host, alongside Michael Barbaro.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on U.S. primaries and redistricting fights.

You can reach Amelia and the team at

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