Your Thursday Briefing

Mikhail Gorbachev, addressing the U.N. General Assembly in 1988.Credit…Bill Foley/Getty Images

Putin reacts to Gorbachev’s death

After Mikhail Gorbachev died at 91, all eyes turned to Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia.

Putin has called the end of the Soviet Union a “genuine tragedy” for Russia and the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” He has blamed Gorbachev, the U.S.S.R.’s final leader, for bending to the demands of a treacherous and duplicitous West.

Yesterday, Putin offered a brief conciliatory message. He called Gorbachev a “statesman” who “deeply understood that reforms were necessary” and “strove to offer his own solutions to urgent problems.”

But Putin did not mention the war in Ukraine, where he is fighting to reverse Gorbachev’s legacy.

The Kremlin: Soon after Gorbachev’s death, it became clear that he would not be venerated by the Kremlin as other former leaders had been. A column published by the state news agency said Gorbachev could “serve as an illustration that good intentions of a national leader can create hell on earth for a whole country.”

Global reaction: Western leaders remembered Gorbachev as an honest reformer and hailed him as a visionary. But in China, his legacy is a cautionary tale.

Russian men ages 18 to 27 are required to serve in the military for a year.Credit…Alexey Malgavko/Reuters

Hesitancy in Russia to hold a draft

Russia’s loudest cheerleaders of the war in Ukraine are pushing for a draft. ButVladimir Putin, Russia’s president, has so far chosen to avoid mass conscription.

Many are puzzled: Putin has repeatedly framed the war as an existential battle for Russia but insists on fighting the biggest land war in Europe since World War II with a Russian military that is essentially at peacetime strength.

The move appears to be strategic. Putin is trying to maintain domestic stability and prevent widespread public backlash. Even though the Kremlin released an order last week to increase the target size of the military by 137,000 service members, analysts said it appeared that Putin was still intent on adding to the ranks by aggressive recruitment, rather than by large-scale conscription.

Now, though, the debate has grown more urgent. Ukraine is gaining momentum on the southern front. And the recent killing of Daria Dugina, an ultranationalist commentator, has magnified the voices of radical hawks who believe that the Kremlin is underestimating the enemy and lulling Russian society into a false sense of security.

Other updates:

  • The E.U. will make it more difficult for Russians to get visas, but it stopped short of a blanket ban on tourists.

  • Experts from the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency are expected to arrive at the imperiled nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia today.

  • Ukrainian troops, strapped for supplies, are bartering with each other for tanks and artillery.

A security guard at a detention center in Xinjiang, China, last year.Credit…Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

U.N. denounces China’s conduct in Xinjiang

China may have committed “crimes against humanity” in its mass detention of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim groups in its far western region of Xinjiang, the U.N.’s human rights office said yesterday.

The forceful denouncement came in a much-delayed report, released minutes before Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, was to leave office. China had pressured her not to publish it.

The State of the War

  • A New Counteroffensive: Ukraine has long vowed a major push in the southern region of Kherson to retake territory seized by Russia. It may have begun.
  • Nuclear Plant Standoff: After renewed shelling intensified fears about a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia power plant, United Nations inspectors arrived in Ukraine for a high-stakes visit to the Russian-controlled station.
  • Russia’s Military Expansion: President Vladimir V. Putin ordered a sharp increase in the size of Russia’s armed forces, a sign that he expects a prolonged war — an outcome Ukraine has incentive to avoid.
  • Unusual Approaches: Ukrainian troops, facing strained supply lines, are turning to jury-rigged weapons and equipment bartering among units.

The report does not appear to use the word “genocide,” a designation applied by the U.S. and also by an unofficial tribunal in Britain last year.

But it treats as credible rights groups’ and activists’ claims that China has detained Uyghurs, Kazakhs and others, often for having overseas ties or for expressing religious faith. It also says that allegations of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape, “appear credible and would in themselves amount to acts of torture or other forms of ill-treatment.”

Details: The report’s release ended a nearly yearlong delay that had exposed Bachelet and her office to fierce pushback by activists and others who had accused her of caving to Beijing.

Quotable: Sophie Richardson, the China director for Human Rights Watch, described the report as “an unprecedented challenge to Beijing’s lies and horrific treatment of Uyghurs.”


Around the World

Credit…Department of Justice
  • Classified files at Mar-a-Lago were likely hidden, and Trump representatives falsely claimed they had been returned, the Justice Dept. said.

  • Drug cartels are terrorizing Mexico. Security forces are coming up short.

  • The German government reached a compensation deal with the families of athletes killed at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

What Else Is Happening

Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
  • Serena Williams advanced to the third round at the U.S. Open.

  • U.S. health authorities authorized updated booster shots, which target Omicron subvariants.

  • NASA intends to retry its moon rocket launch on Saturday.

A Morning Read

Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times

After the Taliban took over Afghanistan last year, the goalkeeper of the women’s national soccer team knew she could be killed for playing her sport.

So she buried her jerseys and trophies in her courtyard and narrowly escaped to Australia. This is her story.


Inside Cristiano Ronaldo’s tumultuous year at Manchester United: When the five-time Ballon d’Or winner returned in a blaze of glory, having supposedly spurned the advances of rival Manchester City, the ambition was to elevate United from pretenders to contenders. Things didn’t go to plan. This is the inside story of how a glorious return turned sour.

Why Chelsea spent $81 million on Wesley Fofana: Despite his relative inexperience, Chelsea has made Fofana one of the most expensive defenders in history. He possesses on-field maturity, defensive ability and speed to cope with slippery opponents. The belief is he’ll shine. We’ll see.

Why Marcus Rashford must take advantage of his opportunity: Anthony Martial’s injury status, coupled with Ronaldo’s uncertain playing future, opens a slot for Rashford to be a dependable second option for United. It’s up to Rashford to take it.

The Athletic, a New York Times company, is a subscription publication that delivers in-depth, personalized sports coverage. Learn more about The Athletic.


Credit…Ellen Garland

Whale songs, across the sea

Humpback whales have their own long-range, high-speed cultural evolution, like us. But they don’t need the internet or satellites to keep it running.

In a study published this week, scientists found that humpback songs easily spread from one population to another across the Pacific Ocean. It can take just a couple of years for a song to move several thousand miles from whales in Australia to whales in Ecuador.

“Half the globe is now vocally connected for whales,” said Ellen Garland, a marine biologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and an author of the study. “And that’s insane.”

Researchers have uncovered a complex, language-like structure in these songs that male humpbacks gradually embellish, resulting in different melodies between populations. The songs are most likely spreading as humpbacks migrate from their breeding grounds to foraging grounds close to Antarctica, a journey where males from different populations may swim near each other.

Notably, no one is certain why the whales sing. But scientists think a new tune could help attract a mate. “These big changes jump out of the water at us, to our ears,” Dr. Garland said. “So I would assume they would be noticeable to females.”


What to Cook

Credit…Johnny Miller for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Rebecca Jurkevich

Top these crispy spiced chickpeas with handfuls of herbs.

What to Read

Read your way through Mexico City.


Tourism is booming in the Italian town of Chioggia, which has long lived in Venice’s shadow.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Rich cake” (five 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. Introducing the inaugural members of The New York Times Corps, in which Times journalists provide career guidance for college students.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about the aftermath of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

You can reach Amelia and the team at [email protected].

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