Your Thursday Briefing: Russia Cuts Gas Supplies

Good morning. A gas crisis looms over Europe, anger grows in Shanghai and Singapore executes an intellectually disabled man.

Gazprom said it paused shipments after the two companies refused to pay in rubles, but the move follows news of the West’s escalating arms shipments to Ukraine.Credit…Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Russia cuts gas supplies to Europe

In its toughest response yet to European sanctions, Russia halted natural gas shipments to Bulgaria and Poland.

The E.U.’s top official denounced the move as “blackmail,” but European officials said they were prepared to weather the near-term impact: Poland’s gas storage facilities are 75 percent full, and it has been working for years to avoid being held to ransom by Moscow over energy. Germany also said it could withstand an immediate end to Russian gas, and Greece offered to help Bulgaria respond. Here are the latest updates.

Even though the immediate economic impact was likely to be limited, economists said Europe could face a sharp slowdown if the cutoff were to spread to other countries — or if the E.U. imposed an embargo on Russian gas. Yesterday, the euro slumped to a five-year low, while prices for natural gas futures in Europe jumped by more than 23 percent.

Japan: As the world’s third-largest economy shuts coal-fired plants and keeps nuclear sites closed, it has begun to depend on imported liquefied natural gas and is now threatened by rising prices.

Infrastructure: Ukrainians are blowing up their own bridges and dams in an effort to stop Russia’s advance. In Demydiv, a village north of Kyiv that Ukrainians flooded intentionally, residents couldn’t be happier. “We saved Kyiv,” one said.

State of the war:

  • Explosions inside Russia raised fears that the conflict could spread and suggested that Ukraine was benefiting from more sophisticated Western weapons.

  • Russian forces are making measured advances in the east, adopting more methodical tactics against entrenched Ukrainian forces, military analysts said.

  • About 15,000 Russian troops have been killed since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Britain said.

The Communist Party has pushed a triumphalist narrative, arguing that only the Chinese government had the will to confront, and hold back, the virus.Credit…Hector Retamal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Rising public anger in Shanghai

Now in their fourth week of Covid lockdown, many Shanghai residents are finding creative ways to circumvent government censors to document the tragedy they see unfolding in the city.

They have banded together to repost deleted content, for a time overwhelming censors’ ability to keep up, and compiled footage showing rotting food or shouting matches with local officials, rebutting the authorities’ story of a tidy, cheery outbreak response.

The outpouring of grief, rage and frustration poses the biggest challenge to the Communist Party’s leadership in years. It is a direct challenge to Xi Jinping, China’s leader, who has staked his legitimacy on a commitment to “zero Covid.”

Details: Vast numbers of people shared a video, “Voices of April,” chronicling residents’ complaints; in one post, to avoid censors, the video played on a cartoon computer watched by SpongeBob SquarePants.

Cases: Shanghai’s outbreak may be ebbing. On Wednesday, the city announced its lowest total for new cases in weeks: 12,309. Only 171 of those were detected among people who were not already in isolation.

Beijing: About 139,000 workers are engaged in a vast testing effort. The capital has just 138 known cases, three dozen of which have been linked to a single school.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

Other updates:

  • The E.U. declared that the emergency phase of the pandemic was over.

  • Researchers are using machine learning to identify animal viruses that could infect people.

A candlelight vigil outside Singapore’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the hanged man.Credit…Fazry Ismail/EPA, via Shutterstock

Singapore’s controversial execution

Singapore, which has some of the world’s harshest narcotics laws, executed a Malaysian man convicted of smuggling 1.5 ounces of heroin into the island. Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, 34, was executed by hanging, according to his attorney.

The case drew international scrutiny and appeals from business leaders to stay the execution. His lawyers and rights groups said he should be spared because he suffered from an intellectual disability. Nagaenthran, who had an I.Q. of 69, was not fully capable of understanding his actions and was coerced into carrying the drugs, his defenders said.

Background: Singapore contends that the death penalty is a deterrent to drug smuggling. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that it was “deeply concerned” by an increase in executions there. “The use of the death penalty for drug-related offenses is incompatible with international human rights law,” it said.



Since the military junta arrested her last February, the ousted civilian leader has been charged with 17 criminal counts that her defenders maintain are fabricated.Credit…Romeo Gacad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • A Myanmar court sentenced Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to five years in prison in a corruption trial closed to the public.

  • The U.S. criticized China, Russia and other countries on Wednesday for continuing to fall short of promises to protect intellectual property.

World News

  • A prominent critic of Egypt’s government died in detention under mysterious circumstances. New photographs raised suspicions that he was abused before his death.

  • The Trump administration inappropriately awarded $700 million from a pandemic fund to a well-connected trucking company, House Democrats said.

  • The disappearance and death of an 18-year-old Mexican woman has sparked a national outcry over the government’s failure to deliver justice for missing women.

  • Children in Italy will be given their mother’s and father’s surnames at birth, instead of automatically being assigned just the father’s.

What Else Is Happening

  • About 20 percent of reptile species are threatened with extinction, according to the first global analysis of its kind.

  • Residents of New York City’s Chinatown, unsettled by a recent spate of attacks against Asians, are fighting a plan to open two new homeless shelters nearby.

  • Audio recordings reveal that Kevin McCarthy, the U.S. House Republican leader, worried that comments from his far-right colleagues could put “people in jeopardy” after the Capitol riot.

A Morning Read

A Hebrew teacher said the February party was “definitely the first time we have so many ladies gathered together to do the mitzvah of our precious challah.”Credit…The New York Times

Once, Jews hid Torah scrolls in golf bags to bring them into Dubai. But now that the United Arab Emirates has normalized diplomatic relations with Israel, Dubai’s Jewish community is more open — there are numerous weekly services, kosher restaurants and even challah-baking parties.

Lives lived: Kane Tanaka, the oldest person in the world, survived two world wars, the 1918 flu pandemic and cancer. She died in Japan at 119.


Taking orders at Mi-Sant Banh Mi Co. in Minnesota.Credit…Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

Fast food of the future

Drive-through restaurants, an American innovation that went mainstream in the 1970s, are often associated with burgers and fries. But now, some Vietnamese chefs are aiming for that same fast-food success, Priya Krishna writes.

In Houston, which has a large Vietnamese population, several drive-through Vietnamese restaurants have opened in recent years. Others are popping up across the country. Americans’ increasing familiarity with the cuisine also helps the trend, one owner said.

Cassie Ghaffar, an owner of Saigon Hustle in Houston, said that she hoped to mimic the success of Panda Express. Saigon Hustle serves banh mi (sandwiches), bun (vermicelli bowls) and com (rice bowls).

“The drive-through is less intimidating,” Ghaffar said. “It is giving more people an opportunity to try Vietnamese cuisine.”


What to Cook

Credit…Dane Tashima for The New York Times

There are infinite ways to roast a chicken. Try this well-seasoned option, coated in a sweet-sticky maple glaze, cut with paprika and vinegar.

What to Listen to

On her first album in five years, the Mexican musician Carla Morrison reveals both her paralyzing anxiety and her newfound strength.

What to Read

Vauhini Vara’s began her debut novel, “The Immortal King Rao,” 13 years ago. Now, her once-fantastical story of a boy from rural India who becomes a tech mogul is closer to a description of reality.

Now Time to Play

Play today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Barbecue rod (four letters).

Here are today’s Wordle and today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

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

P.S. Erin Mendell is joining The Times from The Wall Street Journal to serve as an editor in Seoul.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about a school prayer case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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

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