Good morning. We’re covering fighting in Ukraine’s east, Northern Ireland’s political reckoning and rising violence in Afghanistan.
President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Kyiv on Saturday.Credit…Ukrainian Presidential Press Service
Are dynamics shifting in Ukraine?
Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. House speaker, met with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in Kyiv over the weekend. Her visit signaled a deepening U.S. commitment to Ukraine: Pelosi is the most senior American official to visit the country since the war began, and she pledged U.S. support “until victory is won.”
Moscow, for its part, has struggled to make much progress in its offensive on Ukraine’s separatist east. Russian forces, which are in disarray and plagued by logistical problems, appear to be foundering and have made only incremental gains so far. Here are live updates.
Still, Moscow is doubling down on its costly invasion, shifting troops from its far-eastern regions to bolster the offensive. Last week, Russia’s top officer, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, visited the front line, which a Ukrainian official described as an effort to change the offensive’s course.
Food supply: Ukraine has limited its exports of sunflower oil, and several supermarkets — most recently in Britain — have asked shoppers to limit their purchases. Dozens of other countries have also erected trade barriers, which experts say could worsen a global food crisis.
Energy: The E.U. will most likely give member countries until the end of this year to ban Russian oil imports. In Ukraine, long lines are forming at gas stations as a fuel crisis looms.
Economy: Global growth has stalled amid the war and the pandemic: On Friday, the E.U. said that the 19 countries that use the euro grew only 0.2 percent over all during January, February and March compared with the previous three months.
State of the war:
On Sunday, Russia said that it had struck 800 targets over the past day, including a hangar in Odesa that Russia said was storing weapons and ammunition delivered by the U.S. and Europe.
In Ukrainian territory controlled by Russia, including the southern city region of Kherson and its surrounding province, the occupying forces are taking steps to erase Ukrainian identity and transition the currency to the ruble.
Fighting has intensified around Kharkiv, once Ukraine’s second-largest city.
About 100 civilians have been evacuated from a Mariupol steel plant.
Three foreigners who volunteered to fight for Ukraine — from the U.S., Britain and Denmark — have died in combat in the past week.
Russia’s foreign minister claimed that nearly a million people had been moved to Russia from Ukraine in voluntary “evacuations.”
Elections loom in Northern Ireland
The Irish nationalist party, Sinn Fein, is emphasizing kitchen-table concerns and is leading in polls ahead of parliamentary elections on Thursday.
Many outside Ireland still associate Sinn Fein with years of paramilitary violence perpetrated by the Irish Republican Army. The party favors reunification with the Republic of Ireland, and a victory could upend the power-sharing arrangements that have kept the country’s fragile peace for two decades.
Sinn Fein’s rival, the Democratic Unionist Party, favors Northern Ireland’s current status as part of the U.K. Members have warned they will refuse to take part in a government with a Sinn Fein first minister. The country’s unionists, who have splintered into three parties, could still end up with the largest bloc of votes.
What’s next: Sinn Fein wants a “border poll” to determine whether a majority of people favor Irish unity. But the party has limited power: Only the British government can call such a referendum.
Brexit: Disputes have recently escalated over the North’s hybrid trade status with Britain and the E.U. Unionists are pressing Britain to cut back on border checks, which, critics warn, could prompt a clash with Brussels and jeopardize the hard-won peace of the Good Friday Agreement.
And: Ireland is giving people room to leave messages or drawings on census forms, a fragmented national “time capsule” to be opened in 100 years.
Violence grows in Afghanistan
Terrorist attacks in Afghanistan have killed at least 100 people in the past two weeks, figures from hospitals suggest. The sudden spate of attacks has stirred dread that the country is heading into a violent spring.
The country’s Islamic State affiliate — Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K — has claimed responsibility for four of the seven recent major attacks, experts say. The violence has upended the relative calm that followed the Taliban’s seizing of power in August, ending 20 years of war.
The attacks have undermined the Taliban’s claim that they had extinguished any threat from ISIS-K and have reinforced concerns about a potential resurgence of extremist groups that could eventually pose an international threat.
Also: Pakistani airstrikes have killed at least 45 people, including 20 children, on Afghanistan’s eastern border. The attacks have stoked fears of a violent resurgence of the conflict between the two countries, which have navigated a delicate relationship since the Taliban seized power.
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As a coronavirus outbreak continued to spread in Beijing, officials increased restrictions and closed schools early before a holiday weekend but stopped short of imposing a full lockdown.
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A Morning Read
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ARTS AND IDEAS
They’re allgood dogs
Researchers conducted owner surveys for 18,385 dogs and sequenced the genomes of 2,155 dogs. They found that breed is essentially useless for predicting a dog’s behavior.
One of the clearest findings is that breed has no discernible effect on a dog’s reactions to something it finds new or strange. This behavior is what a nonscientist may see as innate aggression and would seem to cast doubt on breed stereotypes of aggressive dogs.
So, Labrador retrievers are not necessarily lovers; pit bulls aren’t predisposed to fight.
This is not to say that there are no differences among breeds or that breed can’t predict some things. (Border collies, for instance, may be easier to train; Siberian huskies seem more likely to howl.) But the genes that shape dog behavior predate modern breeding, which mostly focuses on appearance. Looks, it seems, matter less than we think.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, READ
What to Cook
Indonesian skewers inspire this smoky vegan recipe for satay with peanut sauce.
What to Read
“Dead in the Water” unspools a tale of colossal insurance fraud, as pirates sabotage an oil tanker.
What to Watch
The Met Gala’s red carpet will open today at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. Here’s a guide to the event.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Thumbs-down votes (four letters).
And here’s today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Amelia
P.S. The Times’s Peter Baker will discuss Russia’s war in a conversation with Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, today at 5 p.m. B.S.T.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the U.S. approach to Ukraine.
You can reach Amelia and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.