Thursday Briefing: Blinken Visits Kyiv

A street after a missile strike in Kostyantynivka, Ukraine, yesterday.Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Blinken visits Kyiv as a Russian missile kills 17

At least 17 people were killed yesterday in a Russian strike on Kostyantynivka, a city in eastern Ukraine that is close to the front lines, President Volodymyr Zelensky said. The attack, one of the deadliest strikes in Ukraine in months, came hours after the U.S. secretary of state, Antony Blinken, arrived in Kyiv for an unannounced visit.

The attack hit an outdoor market around 2 p.m., a time when it is usually bustling with activity, Ukrainian officials said. A child was among those killed, according to the prime minister, and the interior minister said 32 people had been injured.

In Kyiv, Blinken announced more than $1 billion in new U.S. aid to Ukraine, including $665.5 million in military and other security assistance. He noted that much of the aid was intended not for the current fight but for long-term security and rebuilding Ukrainian society. In total, the U.S. has pledged more than $70 billion in financial, humanitarian and military assistance to Ukraine.

The visit from Blinken, who met with Zelensky, came as the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the southeast gained some traction after three months of grueling fighting. Ukrainian troops have broken through a main line of Russia’s defenses in one location, Ukraine’s Army has said, and are turning their attention to breaking through in another heavily defended patch of territory.

Other news from the war:

  • The vote in Slovakia this month will be a test of European unity on Ukraine, and of Russia’s efforts to undermine it. The front-runner wants to halt arms shipments to Kyiv.

  • Russia’s extensive use of cluster munitions last year in Ukraine led to the highest number of casualties from the widely banned weapons in more than a decade, according to a new report.

President Xi Jinping’s strategy of ruling China through highly centralized control is under pressure.Credit…Pool photo by Gianluigi Guercia

China’s economic slump is testing Xi’s agenda

Economic setbacks in China — gloomy consumers, sluggish private investment, high youth unemployment and more — are emerging as perhaps the most sustained challenge to Xi Jinping’s agenda in over a decade in power.

The recent troubles have fed an unusually candid domestic debate about the direction of economic policy under Xi, especially his expansion of the state’s control over the economy. Proponents of the private sector argue that such statist policies are taking China down a dead end.

Xi now faces a tangle of difficult choices. To spur growth, he may have to open up new sectors for private entrepreneurs and investors, or offer financial support to debt-saddled local governments. Or he may have to push through painful steps that some experts say are needed to fix the economy, such as introducing new taxes.

Tech war: During the U.S. commerce secretary’s good will tour to China last week, Huawei unveiled a smartphone powered by an advanced chip, illustrating just how hard it has been for the U.S. to clamp down on China’s tech prowess.

Delegates to the African Climate Summit outside the Kenyatta International Convention Center in Nairobi on Monday.Credit…Monicah Mwangi/Reuters

Africa’s first climate summit

Leaders from across Africa called for an urgent restructuring of the way wealthier nations engage with the continent as they concluded an inaugural climate summit yesterday in Nairobi, Kenya.

In a declaration, the leaders stressed that Africa is primed for leadership on clean energy and environmental stewardship. But to make that happen, the world’s industrialized countries, which are largely responsible for the pollution that is causing climate change, must first unlock access to their wealth through investments, the declaration said.

Context: The lack of financing from multinational lending institutions, which consider many African countries too risky for investment in clean energy projects, is one of the biggest issues dividing rich and poor nations as the world struggles to slash emissions. It will be one of the main points of contention at the U.N. climate summit in Dubai in November.


Asia Pacific

The Japanese space agency’s H2-A rocket before the launch was scrubbed last month.Credit…Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • Japan will make a second attempt today to launch a moon lander and telescope into space after weather forced a postponement of the first mission.

  • Two workers have been detained in northern China after the authorities said they plowed through a section of the Great Wall with an excavator.

Around the World

Damage from the storm was reported in 67 municipalities across Rio Grande do Sul State.Credit…Diego Vara/Reuters
  • A cyclone that battered southern Brazil this week has killed at least 22 people, displaced 3,000 others and prompted the government to dispatch helicopters for rescues.

  • At least 14 people have died in floods from violent storms in Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.

  • The Spanish soccer star Jennifer Hermoso has filed a sexual assault complaint against the head of the country’s soccer federation, who gave her an unsolicited kiss after her team’s World Cup victory.

  • Rare street protests have broken out in Bahrain in support of a hunger strike at the country’s largest prison, activists said. The inmates are protesting poor conditions, including mistreatment.

  • Biden administration officials are debating whether to call the military takeover in Niger in late July a “coup.” Such a finding would lead to a cutoff in aid.

Other Big Stories

  • A new report by UNESCO said that overreliance on remote learning technology during the pandemic led to “staggering” education inequality around the world, causing an “ed-tech tragedy.”

  • Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, has protested his conditions in jail in Brooklyn, where he awaits trial for fraud.

  • At the U.S. Open, Ben Shelton will face Novak Djokovic in the semifinal after beating Frances Tiafoe.

A Morning Read

Credit…Raphaelle Macaron

A modern megacity, Seoul has a long history, reaching back 6,000 years. For centuries, the city was the center of dynasties that ruled the region.

To savor the layers of time, Han Kang, a writer who grew up there, recommends books that draw from the various eras that have made up Seoul.


Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger in London yesterday.Credit…Toby Melville/Reuters

A new Rolling Stones album

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood — the band’s three current members — provided details yesterday about their first record of new material in 18 years.

The anticipated 12-track “Hackney Diamonds” will be released on Oct. 20, and is the group’s first album of original material since the release of “A Bigger Bang” in 2005. It’s also the first since the drummer Charlie Watts died in 2021.

Fans of the Stones, which formed in 1962 and are one of rock’s most enduring acts, have been awaiting a new album since “Blue & Lonesome” in 2016, which featured a dozen blues covers. Although the Stones have said “Hackney Diamonds” marks a “new era,” Philip Norman, who wrote a major biography of the group, said he was anticipating a classic Stones sound.

“This is the Stones we know and some of us have loved for the past six decades,” he said.


Credit…Linda Xiao for The New York Times

Grill these salty, tangy and supremely textural galbi and tteok skewers.

Listen to a conversation about Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour on “Popcast.”

Read “Wound,” Oksana Vasyakina’s debut novel, about a bittersweet road trip across Russia.

Prepare for an emergency with these supplies.

Play the Mini Crossword, Wordle, Sudoku and the Spelling Bee. (If you’re stuck, the Bee Buddy can help.)

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Jonathan

We welcome your feedback at [email protected].

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