Your Thursday Briefing: A Stronger NATO Emerges

We’re covering NATO’s new strategic plan and the psychological scars of Shanghai’s lockdown.

From left, the NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, President Biden and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain at the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday.Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

A more muscular NATO emerges

At a summit in Madrid yesterday, NATO outlined its new strategic vision, positioning Moscow as the alliance’s primary adversary and, for the first time, labeling China a strategic “challenge.”

The plan signifies a fundamental shift from the post-Cold War era, when the alliance saw Russia as a potential ally and did not focus on China at all. It followed formal membership invitations to Finland and Sweden — paving the way for NATO’s most significant enlargement in more than a decade.

NATO’s efforts to build power come as Moscow’s forces continue to hold the upper hand in the fifth month of their war in Ukraine, methodically gaining ground in the east as they reduce civilian areas to rubble. The secretary general of NATO announced plans to deploy thousands of new troops assigned to bases in eight countries on NATO’s eastern flank.

Related: A day after Turkey dropped its opposition to efforts by Finland and Sweden to join NATO, the U.S. moved closer to selling F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

News from the war in Ukraine:

  • Russia is dispatching thousands more troops to eastern Ukraine as it struggles to seize the last patch of sovereign Ukrainian territory — a stretch of about 20 miles — in Luhansk Province.

  • Ukraine announced the largest prisoner exchange since Russia invaded, with 144 soldiers returned to Ukraine, including dozens who defended against the siege of Mariupol.

  • The U.S. accused five Chinese companies of violating sanctions against Russia by continuing to support Russia’s military.

A temporary isolation center in Shanghai in April. A two-month lockdown fueled psychological effects among residents that experts say will be long-lasting.Credit…The New York Times

Lockdown’s shadow over Shanghai

Shanghai, China’s most populous city, has emerged from the depths of its devastating spring Covid outbreak. Businesses and restaurants have reopened, and state media has trumpeted a return to normalcy.

But many residents are still grappling with the psychological scars of two months of strict lockdowns. Some are worrying about rights they once took for granted, like buying food and expecting privacy in their own homes. Some are grieving for fractured relationships. Many remain anxious about the weeks they went without pay or whether their businesses will survive.

During the lockdown, calls to mental health hotlines in Shanghai surged. On the search engine Baidu, queries from the city for psychological counseling more than tripled from a year ago. One survey of residents found that 40 percent were at risk of depression. When restrictions in some neighborhoods loosened slightly in late April, more than 1,000 people lined up outside the Shanghai Mental Health Center one morning.

What’s next: Hanging over it all is a broader inability for the city to put the ordeal fully behind it, as China maintains its goal of completely eliminating the virus. Every district in Shanghai will be briefly locked down each weekend until the end of July for mass testing.

Other virus news:

  • Officials in Macau are conducting mandatory testing and locking down parts of the city amid its worst spike in coronavirus cases.

  • Omicron subvariants known as BA.4 and BA.5 have together become dominant among new coronavirus cases in the U.S.

A crowd gathered on Tuesday in Udaipur, India, outside the shop of a tailor who was killed. Credit…Associated Press

Killing spreads unrest in India

A gruesome video — of two Muslim men killing a Hindu tailor because they believed he had insulted the Prophet Muhammad — spread quickly across India, sparking protests and concerns of continued violence.

The authorities arrested the men on terrorism charges and shut down the internet in the state of Rajasthan, where the attack took place, in an effort to slow the spread of the video.

The killing was the latest incident in India’s deepening schism between the two religions. In a television appearance this month, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party made insulting remarks about the Prophet Muhammad. Two Muslim men were killed at a protest calling for the spokeswoman’s arrest.

The tailor, Kanhaiya Lal Teli, had posted on WhatsApp in support of her. Then, this week, the two Muslim men pretended to be customers at the tailor’s shop and attacked him, filming the killing on a mobile phone and threatening the prime minister.

Official response: The Indian government deployed its counterterrorism force to investigate. “The central government is immensely concerned,” said a spokesman, “not least of all because the assailants threatened to come after Narendra Modi next.”


Around the World

Before he was removed from his post last week, Hossein Taeb presided over a feared intelligence apparatus in Iran.Credit…Hamed Malekpour/Agence France-Presse, via Tasnim News/AFP Via Getty Images
  • After a relentless Israeli campaign to undermine Iran’s security, a senior Iranian intelligence official lost his job and a general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was arrested.

  • The Philippine government ordered Rappler, the news site co-founded by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, to shut down for violating foreign ownership rules. Ressa vowed to appeal the decision.

  • The E.U. proposed a ban on the sale of flavored heated tobacco products that are used widely in e-cigarettes.

  • Scotland’s first minister announced plans for a referendum next year on Scottish independence, reviving the question over her country’s future.

  • At least one person died after heavy thunderstorms lashed villages in southern Austria.

  • Twenty men were convicted for their roles in a 2015 terrorist attack in France, a spree of shootings and bombings that killed 130 people.

What Else Is Happening

  • R. Kelly, the R&B singer who had long escaped criminal penalties despite decades of sexual misconduct allegations, was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

  • A U.S. official called for Google and Apple to remove TikTok from their app stores, citing concerns that the video app, which is Chinese owned, could send American data back to Beijing.

  • Clinics across the U.S. will begin offering vaccinations against monkeypox to anyone who may have been exposed to the virus.

  • Serena Williams lost in the first round of Wimbledon for the second consecutive year.

A Morning Read

The Egyptian government said Cairo’s houseboats were unsafe and unlicensed.Credit…Heba Khamis for The New York Times

Earlier in June, Egypt’s government ordered houseboats on the Nile to be demolished. With them will fade the remnants of a glittering history. Divas hosted debauched salons on them. The Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz wrote a novel on one, and famous films were set on others. “They’re a kind of romantic dream,” said Ahdaf Soueif, a novelist. “They’re so much a part of the heritage of Cairo.”


Constantly creating

Taika Waititi might be the busiest man in Hollywood.

He was behind the camera as director and co-writer of the new Marvel movie “Thor: Love and Thunder.” He was in front of it for the HBO pirate comedy series “Our Flag Means Death,” in which he played Blackbeard. He voices a character in the new Pixar film “Lightyear.” He is creating two projects for Netflix based on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Waititi’s secret to managing the workload: not thinking about it. “If I was to step back and look at all of the things I’m doing, I’d probably have a panic attack,” he told The Times’s Dave Itzkoff. “I know there’s too many things. I know I’m doing a lot. I just have to keep pivoting every couple of hours.”


What to Cook

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

This crowd-pleasing potato cake takes on the flavor of whatever seasoning or toppings you choose.

What to Listen to

“The Tennis Podcast” started around a dining room table. Ten years later, it’s a major presence in the sport.

What to Read

Davey Davis’s new novel, “X,” is a queer noir set in a troubling near-future world.

Now, Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and here’s a clue: DNA sequences (5 letters).

Here are today’s Wordle and Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

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

P.S. Has the war in Ukraine changed your view of the world? Tell us about it. The Times is looking for examples, both big and small, from readers.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Tuesday’s dramatic Jan 6. hearing.

You can reach Matthew and the team at

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