Putin prematurely claims victory in Mariupol
Speaking from Moscow, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said Russia had gained control of the devastated Ukrainian city of Mariupol, even as fighting continued. He publicly called off an assault on a final stronghold — a sprawling steel mill where 2,000 Ukrainian fighters are said to remain — in a stark display of the Kremlin’s desire to present a success to the Russian public. Follow the latest updates on the war.
His call to blockade the plant “so that a fly can’t get through,” as Putin put it, avoids, for now, a bloody battle in the strategic port city that would add to Russia’s growing casualty toll and tie down troops who could be deployed to the broader battle for eastern Ukraine. Ukrainians in the steel plant are holding firm, despite dire conditions.
The fight for Mariupol carries enormous significance for both sides. It is the last pocket of serious resistance in the land bridge the Kremlin has created connecting territory it already holds in the eastern Donbas region with the Crimean Peninsula in the south. It is also home to much of Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, filled with far-right fighters who give a sheen of credibility to the Russian claim that Ukraine is run by Nazis.
Devastation: Mariupol has been under siege for more than a month, with much of it lying in ruins. And satellite images show a growing mass grave on the city’s outskirts. Roughly three-quarters of its residents have fled, and, according to Ukrainian officials, about 20,000 civilians there have been killed — yet it is still not fully conquered.
Plans: Russia is shifting the focus of the war to gaining territory and wiping out Ukrainian forces in Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukraine since 2014.
In other news from the war:
Russian forces made minor gains across a 300-mile front in eastern Ukraine, according to military analysts.
Families whose sons were listed as missing after the Russian flagship sank in the Black Sea a week ago are demanding answers, a liability for the Kremlin’s propaganda machine.
A fiery exchange between Israel and Gaza militants
In the most intense fighting since the end of an 11-day war in May last year, militants in Gaza fired several rockets toward Israel overnight on Wednesday and early Thursday. The Israeli Air Force said it had retaliated by striking two military sites in Gaza. No deaths were reported.
The exchange followed a sharp rise in violence across Israel and the occupied territories over the past month, beginning with the deadliest wave of Arab attacks in Israel in more than a half decade, in which 14 people died. A subsequent Israeli crackdown in the occupied West Bank has killed at least 15 Palestinians.
Tensions escalated further after clashes between the Israeli police and Palestinian stone-throwers at the Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and a site holy to both Jews and Muslims. Those confrontations drew rare public criticism from Israel’s new Arab allies, Bahrain, Morocco and the U.A.E.
Tensions: Clashes at the mosque compound flared again early Thursday as the police forced Palestinians from parts of the site to secure access for tourists and Jewish worshipers, including hard-line Jewish activists who hope one day to rebuild an ancient Jewish temple that stood on the site about 2,000 years ago.
Next steps: Both Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, have indicated in recent days that they want to avoid another mini-war like the one last year.
Calls to reshape global supply chains that are ‘not secure’
Janet Yellen, the U.S. Treasury secretary, said yesterday that global supply chains had proved to be unstable amid the pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine. She called for a reshaping of trade relationships oriented around “trusted partners,” even if that meant higher costs for businesses and consumers.
Speaking during the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Yellen said that protectionism, or taxing imports more, was not the answer, but that the economic benefits of the world’s network of supply chains were not worth the risk of a reliance on adversaries.
Economic forecasts this week underscored the significant headwinds that the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia were inflicting on the global economy. The Biden administration intends to ramp up pressure on Russia, rolling out new sanctions and announcing on Thursday $1.3 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine.
Quotable: “Our supply chains are not secure, and they’re not resilient,” Yellen said. “And I think that’s something, in terms of long-term risk to the U.S. and to other countries, that’s a threat that needs to be addressed.” That might involve a “somewhat” higher level of cost and less efficiency, she added.
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Get out your razors
There’s plenty of evidence that the shaved head is the first trendy cut of 2022. Iris Law, Demi Lovato and Saweetie have lopped off their manes. The actress Jordan Alexander, of the “Gossip Girl” reboot, and the model Slick Woods have made the look a style signature.
Clara Perlmutter, 23, asked her boyfriend to shave her head with clippers. She has embraced the look for its ease and the fact that her hair is now “one less thing to worry about.” It also suits her style. “I’m into that 1990s and 2000s dystopian-future aesthetic, and I’m really into the way the bald head makes every outfit fit that vibe,” she said.
For some people who have been contemplating the look for a while, the tumult of 2022 felt ripe for a moment of extreme self-expression through beauty. “It’s about taking ownership of your identity and allowing you to control at least one aspect of what’s going on around you,” said Rachael Gibson, who charts the history of hair on her Instagram account thehairhistorian.