Your Monday Briefing

A barrage of rockets slammed into central Kharkiv, Ukraine, yesterday afternoon, igniting fires.Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

In Mariupol, Ukrainians vow to ‘fight to the end’

After weeks of shelling and bombings, Russia gave Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol until yesterday morning to lay down their weapons or be “eliminated.” When Ukrainian officials vowed that they would not surrender, Russian forces intensified their attack on the southeastern city, including at the Azovstal steel plant, near Mariupol’s port. Follow the latest updates.

The plant has become the last line of Ukraine’s defense in preventing Russia from securing a strategically important land bridge between its stronghold in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials said yesterday that the struggle for Mariupol was not over and that its military forces would “fight to the end,” according to Denys Shmyhal, the prime minister.

Taking Mariupol would be one of the first major victories for Russia over the past weeks, a period in which it withdrew from the area around Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and lost one of its most important warships, the Moskva. The Moskva’s sinking drew fierce reaction in some corners of the Russian news media, which called for harsh retaliation.

By the numbers: It was unclear how many Ukrainian troops were still fighting in Mariupol. Russian officials said there were 2,500 soldiers aligned with Ukraine at the steel plant, including “400 foreign mercenaries.” Ukrainians officials say Russian troops outnumber the Ukrainian forces in the city by six to one.

In other news from the war:

  • A Ukrainian village is haunted by the disappearance of five men who went to feed the cows and never returned.

  • In his Easter message, Pope Francis lamented the suffering of the war’s victims and warned of nuclear escalation.

  • China is struggling with the geopolitical shock waves of the war, particularly in its relations with Europe.

Israeli border police chased Palestinian protesters in front of the Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City yesterday.Credit…Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Tensions rise in Israel amid intersecting holidays

Israel’s government crisis deepened last night as the small Islamist party Raam announced it was freezing its participation in the coalition. The decision came after the Israeli police, seeking to prevent contact between Muslims and Jews, blocked Muslim worshipers for hours from entering the Aqsa Mosque compound. See footage of the clashes.

The decision has no immediate impact on the government but has the potential to send Israel to its fifth election in three years if the party chooses to make it permanent. The move highlights the fraying tightrope that Naftali Bennett, the prime minister, must walk in order to keep his ideologically diverse coalition together.

For the past week, Israeli forces have raided towns and cities across the West Bank in response to recent Palestinian attacks in Israel that cumulatively killed 14 people. Palestinians say the operation amounts to collective punishment and will only further stoke the cycle of hatred and bloodshed. Israelis say it is a critical effort to counter terrorism.

Profile: Wassim Razzouk is a Palestinian Christian tattoo artist whose parlor is in Jerusalem’s Old City, which has long been a crucible of friction in the region. “I have tattooed Christians, Palestinians, Ethiopians, Israelis — believe it or not, I’ve tattooed an Orthodox Jew with sidelocks,” he said.

From Jerusalem: For the first time since 1991, Passover, Easter and Ramadan have coincided, intensifying the religious synergies and tensions that have defined Jerusalem for millenniums. Read a dispatch from our Jerusalem bureau chief, Patrick Kingsley.

Migrants arriving at the Dover port after being picked up in the channel by the border force in England on Thursday.Credit…Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Chipping away at the right to seek asylum

After World War II, the right to seek asylum was seen as both a moral and a practical imperative to rebuild shattered societies for the common good. But the Western powers that championed this ideal have steadily eroded it in recent years, reaching a new extreme last week when the British government announced a plan to ship asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Europe’s seeming double standard — as its governments welcome Ukrainians but continue to keep out migrants from the Middle East — has laid the unwritten norms of the global refugee system especially bare. Britain’s own policy highlights how this system, once held up as an obligation, is now treated as effectively voluntary, writes Max Fisher in The Interpreter column.

Still, Britain did not invent the practice of shutting refugees and asylum seekers in faraway facilities. European governments have been paying foreign despots and warlords to detain migrants on their behalf for years. And the U.S. effectively pioneered the practice in 1991, when it diverted boats full of Haitians to Guantánamo Bay.

Quotable: “It’s pretty bold to, within a month, offer housing to Ukrainians and then announce you’re sending all the other migrants 4,000 miles away,” said Stephanie Schwartz, a scholar of migration politics at the University of Pennsylvania.


Virus News

Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
  • Calculating the risks posed by Covid-19 can be a fraught exercise. Here’s how some scientists are thinking about it.

  • In recent weeks, travelers have endured long lines at airports, flight delays and cancellations, and plenty of frustration. Is this the new normal?

  • India is stalling the W.H.O.’s efforts to make public the agency’s estimate of the global death toll from the pandemic.

  • The White House has recommended that all Americans over 60 get a second Covid vaccine booster shot. (Anyone 50 or older is eligible.)

Around the World

Credit…Yahya Arhab/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • During Yemen’s civil war, the Houthis have gone from a band of scrappy rebels to the well-armed rulers of a repressive proto-state.

  • The death toll from Pakistani military airstrikes in eastern Afghanistan rose to at least 45 people, according to local officials.

  • North Korea carried out its 12th missile test of the year, launching two short-range projectiles off its east coast, according to South Korea’s military.

  • One week before the French election, Emmanuel Macron, the current president, is trying to tap into France’s large pool of left-wing voters. His far-right rival, Marine Le Pen, has vowed to ban the wearing of hijabs in public.

What Else Is Happening

  • Donald Trump has transformed Mar-a-Lago’s old bridal suite into a shadow headquarters for the Republican Party, amassing a war chest worth more than $120 million.

  • A watch that was taken by a Nazi soldier in 1942 has been returned to the grandchildren of its maker. It still works.

  • A.I. is mastering language. Should we trust what it says?

A Morning Read

Credit…Lynsey Weatherspoon for The New York Times

More than 50 years after the death of Otis Redding Jr., his wife, Zelma Redding, has no plans to remarry. “Never will,” she said. “I love being Mrs. Otis Redding. I’m the only one.”


When classical music was an alibi

What does politics have to do with classical music? The argument comes to the fore again and again when artists come under scrutiny for their involvement in current events. Most recently, musicians whose ties to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, have been questioned.

Yet performing classical music, or listening to it, has never been an apolitical act, according to Emily Richmond Pollock of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Kira Thurman of the University of Michigan.

The idea that it might be apolitical flourished in the wake of World War II, they write in The Times, thanks in part to the process of denazification, the Allied initiative to purge German-speaking Europe of Nazi political, social and cultural influence.

Almost all working Austrian and German musicians were implicated in the Third Reich. Many rank-and-file artists had been required to join Nazi organizations in order to remained employed, and the correlation of such membership to ideological commitment was often ambiguous. And the fact that classical music was the industry they worked in does not mean they transcended politics.

Read more about the complex relationship between politics and classical music.


What to Cook

Credit…Bobbi Lin for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini.

Roast citrus-dressed salmon over potatoes for a flavorful one-pan meal.

What to Watch

The experimental horror film “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” is a coming-of-age story about the perils and perks of virtual identity-making.

What to Listen to

Get to know Tokischa, the raunchy Dominican rapper who has collaborated with J Balvin and Rosalía.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Enclosure for a pet bird (four 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. The “Still Processing” podcast is back, with new episodes every Thursday.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about a Supreme Court case brought by a prisoner who spent decades in solitary confinement.

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

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