With Bakhmut in ruins, Ukraine shifts focus
Ukraine has tacitly acknowledged that Russia has seized Bakhmut: A Ukrainian official said today that Russian forces are engaged in “mopping up” operations to clear the remaining Ukrainian soldiers in the city — even as Kyiv seeks to shift the focus from the apparent loss to the battle for the city’s outskirts.
The recent comments signaled a shift in how Ukraine is portraying the war’s deadliest campaign. For months, even as its hold on Bakhmut shrank to a few blocks, Ukraine would emphasize fierce fighting to keep the Russians from seizing the city. Officials now appear to be acknowledging that their focus is changing from defending Bakhmut to making it difficult for Russians to hold it.
But Bakhmut itself is destroyed. Drone footage captured by The Times shows the once-peaceful city, known for its salt mines and sparkling wine, reduced to ashes.
“By the time Russia declared victory over the ruins, it was clear the city was all but lost,” said our colleague Marc Santora, who reported from the Bakhmut region last week. “At the same time, a different battle is playing out around the city — this one for the high ground taken by Russian forces over the winter.”
Context: The fight for Bakhmut was the war’s longest and bloodiest battle. Here are maps showing Russia’s grinding advance.
Infamy: Bakhmut’s name now stands alongside Gettysburg, Iwo Jima and Falluja — places that few people had heard of until they became of strategic importance in a war, our colleague Thomas Gibbons-Neff writes.
China bans some sales of U.S. chips
Beijing banned Chinese companies that deal with critical information from purchasing microchips made by Micron Technology, a U.S.-based company that makes chips used in phones, computers and other electronics.
In a statement, the Cyberspace Administration of China said that Micron’s products posed “relatively serious cybersecurity problems” that could threaten national security.
Background: The move, which came on Sunday, is the latest step in an ongoing tech battle between the U.S. and China. Many analysts viewed it as retaliation for Washington’s efforts to cut off China’s access to high-end chips.
Analysis: The ban creates a space in the market that Chinese chip makers could fill. It could also become a wedge between the U.S. and its allies, whose companies could make billions of dollars if they were to step in and pick up business that Micron might lose.
Mexico’s top rights official targeted by spyware
While looking into abuses by the armed forces, Alejandro Encinas, the government’s under secretary for human rights, was targeted with Pegasus, the world’s most notorious spyware, our colleagues Natalie Kitroeff and Ronen Bergman report.
While there’s no proof of who hacked Encinas’s phone, the military is the only entity in Mexico with access to the spyware, according to five people familiar with the contracts.
The spyware attacks on Encinas, which have not been reported previously, seriously undercut President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s pledge to end what he has called the “illegal” spying of the past.
Context: Mexico has long been shaken by spying scandals. But this is the first confirmed case of such a senior member of an administration being surveilled by Pegasus in more than a decade of the spy tool’s use in the country.
THE LATEST NEWS
China’s youth unemployment reached a record high: The government reported that one in five young people were looking for a job last month.
The U.S. signed a new defense pact with Papua New Guinea as it vies with China for influence in the Pacific, CNN reports.
A fire all but destroyed Manila’s historic post office.
Around the World
The E.U. formally asked Greece to investigate a Times report that showed the Greek Coast Guard abandoning migrants at sea.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey got a boost as the runoff on Sunday approaches: Sinan Ogan, who finished third in the first round, endorsed him.
Meta was fined $1.3 billion for violating E.U. privacy rules.
Other Big Stories
The N.A.A.C.P., a top Black rights group in the U.S., issued a travel advisory for Florida, calling Gov. Ron DeSantis’s policies on race “openly hostile.”
The drought-strained Colorado River in the American West supplies drinking water to 40 million people. A breakthrough deal will keep it from going dry, for now.
Saucepans may be the new yellow vests: French residents are banging them to protest changes to the pension plan.
A Morning Read
For the last 16 or so years, the South Korean poet Hwang In-suk has fed cats on her late-night walks through Seoul, coaxing the animals — her favorite muses — from their hiding places with a soft psst.
Hwang said her nocturnal cat-feeding routine has let her discover “worlds that I wouldn’t have found,” and informed her work, which explores loneliness and impermanence in the South Korean capital.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Rice in danger
Half of humanity eats it. And climate change is destroying it.
In China, extreme rainfall has reduced rice yields over the past 20 years. In Pakistan, heat and floods have destroyed harvests. And in California, a drought has led many farmers to fallow their rice fields.
Farmers have had to get creative, shifting their planting calendars or letting their fields dry out on purpose in areas where water is running low. Plant breeders are also using ancient varieties of the grain to create new seeds able to withstand high temperatures, salty soils and other climate hazards.
“We are in a fundamentally different moment,” one climate expert said. “It’s a question of producing more with less.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Pesto pumps up this potato salad.
What to Read
Books to guide you through the layers of Los Angeles.
What to Watch
A new travel series explores the happiest (and unhappiest) countries.
What to Listen to
Paul Simon, 81, confronts death in “Seven Psalms.”
Now Time to Play
Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Edge of a canyon (three letters).
Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Justin and Amelia
P.S. Help us observe birds in your area.
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