Your Monday Briefing

A Ukrainian soldier in a heavily bombed neighborhood of Kharkiv on Sunday.Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

NATO to fast-track membership for Finland and Sweden

Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, announced yesterday that the security bloc would grant fast-track membership to Sweden and Finland. The move raises the pressure on Vladimir Putin, who justified Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by what he cast as the need to keep the military alliance away from his country’s borders. Follow the latest updates.

Finland’s Parliament is expected to ratify a NATO application today, and Sweden’s governing Social Democratic Party said yesterday that it would vote in favor of joining. “President Putin wants Ukraine defeated, NATO down, North America and Europe divided,” Stoltenberg said. “But Ukraine stands, NATO is stronger than ever, Europe and North America are solidly united.”

The decision by Finland and Sweden to apply to join NATO raises the likelihood that the alliance’s troops will deploy along Russia’s 810-mile border with Finland.

Next steps: An application to join NATO must be unanimously approved by its 30 members. One of them, Turkey, has raised issues over the pending applications, though it has suggested it will not oppose admission if its own security concerns are addressed.

On the ground: Ukrainian forces have advanced to near the Russian border in recent days after pushing Russian troops from the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Evidence is growing that Russia’s offensive in the Donbas region farther east is faltering after initial modest gains.

In other news from the war:

  • Well over 400 Russian soldiers appear to have been killed or wounded as they tried to cross the Donets River in the eastern Luhansk region. The disaster appears to be breaking through the Kremlin’s tightly controlled information bubble.

  • Russia has lost a third of the ground forces it committed to the offensive in Ukraine, according to British intelligence officials.

Laura Jackson lost her husband, Charlie, to Covid. Credit…Mike Belleme for The New York Times

The lost Americans

Nearly one million people have died from Covid-19 in the U.S. Many of the loved ones they left behind are carrying a grief that feels lonely, permanent and agonizingly removed from a nation that wants to move on.

In dozens of interviews with The Times, people across America who have lost relatives, spouses and friends to Covid described how they had experienced the pandemic, from the fearful unknowns of the early weeks to this moment, with a reopened nation moving forward, even as more than 300 people are dying every day.

For now, there is no enduring national memorial to those lost, no communal place to gather and mourn. And for some, their grief seems met almost with indifference.

First person: “For us, the pandemic isn’t just this blip in our history,” said Erin Reiner, whose mother died of Covid. “People talk about it like it’s such an inconvenience — we don’t get to do this; we don’t get to have this celebration. I only wish that’s all it was for us, for me, for the countless other families.”

Alternative outcome: If the U.S. had the same Covid death rate as Australia, about 900,000 lives would have been saved. Our Australian bureau chief explores what went right in Australia and wrong in the U.S.

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud greeting supporters in Mogadishu, Somalia.Credit…Malin Fezehai for The New York Times

Somalia elects a president, but terrorists hold power

In a vote that was delayed for nearly two years, hundreds of lawmakers in Somalia yesterday elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the country’s new president. Mohamud, a former president and peace activist, received 214 votes from the 328 lawmakers, who were picked by clan representatives.

His selection ends a bitter election period marred by corruption, his predecessor’s attempt to cling to power and heavy fighting in the streets. Mohamud defeated three dozen candidates after three rounds of voting, including Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who drew condemnation after extending his term last year.

The vote comes amid a host of challenges for Somalia: soaring inflation, a recent deadly drought and the threat of Al Shabab, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda. After more than 16 years, the group now has wide powers, including extorting taxes, judging court cases, forcing minors into its ranks and carrying out suicide bombings.

Context: Somalia’s 16 million people have suffered for decades from civil wars, weak governance and terrorism. The central government has been bolstered by African Union peacekeepers and Western aid.

Quotable: “Our country needs to go forward, not to go back,” Mohamud said after being sworn in early today. “I promise to build a Somalia that is in harmony with itself and is in harmony with the world.”


Other Big Stories

Credit…Malik Rainey for The New York Times
  • In one of the deadliest racist massacres in recent American history, a white gunman killed 10 people and injured three more — almost all of them Black — at a supermarket in upstate New York on Saturday.

  • The party of Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, scored record-low vote percentages yesterday in a regional election in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state.

  • Saudi Aramco reported an 80 percent increase in profits in the first quarter, largely reflecting higher oil prices.

News From the Middle East

Credit…Hussein Malla/Associated Press
  • Lebanese voters cast ballots in parliamentary elections yesterday, their first chance to pass judgment on lawmakers since the economy fell apart.

  • Israeli police officers attacked mourners at the funeral procession of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist who was killed while covering an Israeli raid in the West Bank.

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the U.A.E.’s new leader, after his older half brother, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, died on Friday.

What Else Is Happening

  • The Liet International, a European song contest for minority and regional languages, took place on Friday. A Corsican act took the crown. And at Eurovision, Ukraine triumphed.

  • “There is more than one way to celebrate your Judaism,” says Gilad Kariv, the first Reform rabbi in Israel’s Parliament. The idea poses a challenge to the country’s Orthodox establishment.

A Morning Read

Credit…Ben Kothe

What does the data tell us about wealth and happiness?

The wealthiest Americans — the 140,000 who earn more than $1.58 million per year — may not be the magnates you think they are. And the things that make us happy are almost exactly what you’d expect: nature, sex, friends and exercise, writes Seth Stephens-Davidowitz in this piece from our Opinion section.


Credit…Ash Ponders for The New York Times

Financial nihilism

Many adults under 35 are throwing financial caution to the wind, Anna P. Kambhampaty reports in The Times. Discouraged about the future — amid climate change, a pandemic, war and more — this group is saving less and pursuing passion projects, like coral farming, above, or risky careers.

There are some historical analogies here. During the Cold War, the threat of nuclear war shaped young people’s plans. And when the 2008 financial crisis hit, saving for a home felt useless for many people. “If you have an apocalyptic vision of the future, why would you save for it?” a financial psychologist said.

Hannah Jones, a standup comic in Denver, put it this way: “I’m not going to deprive myself some of the comforts of life now for a future that feels like it could be ripped away from me at any moment.”


What to Cook

Credit…Armando Rafael for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

This roasted potato salad is full of lovely, zingy flavors.


Getting back into running is easier than you think.

What to Read

“Chums,” a new book by Simon Kuper, takes an inside look at Boris Johnson and other future Conservative politicians as students at Oxford.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Sound of air leaking from a tire (three 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. — Natasha

P.S. Elisabeth Goodridge, The Times’s deputy travel editor, will study travel reporting in an era of climate change as a 2023 Nieman fellow at Harvard.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on America’s Covid death toll.

You can reach Natasha and the team at

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