Your Friday Briefing
President Vladimir Putin, left, of Russia, and Xi Jinping, China’s leader, at their meeting Thursday.Credit…Pool photo by Alexandr Demyanchuk
China’s support for Russia’s war wavers
As he met with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan yesterday, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, acknowledged China’s “questions and concerns” about Russia’s war in Ukraine, suggesting that Moscow lacks the full backing of its biggest, most powerful partner on the world stage.
Rather than put on a show of Eurasian unity against the West, the two leaders struck discordant notes in their public remarks. “We highly appreciate the balanced position of our Chinese friends in connection with the Ukrainian crisis,” Putin said. Xi made no mention of Ukraine at all.
Nearly seven months after his invasion began, Putin is finding himself in increasingly daunting political straits. On the battlefield, Russia has lost more than 1,000 square miles of territory in Ukraine this month, and at home, Putin is facing unusual criticism from some supporters over the war. The West continues to ratchet up sanctions against the Kremlin.
Statement: China said it was “willing to work with Russia to demonstrate the responsibility of a major country, play a leading role, and inject stability into a turbulent world.” To experts on the Chinese government, it sounded like an implicit rebuke.
More from the war in Ukraine:
Pope Francis said it was acceptable for countries to provide weapons to Ukraine so that the country could defend itself.
A Ukrainian opera singer was shot in the lungs as he helped civilians, apparently ending his chance at stardom. Miraculously, he has found his voice again.
Italy tilts to the right
The hard-right Italian politician Giorgia Meloni, whose party has post-Fascist roots, is the favorite to become prime minister after elections this month. Known for her ferocious speeches slamming gay-rights lobbies, European bureaucrats and illegal migrants, she would be the first woman to lead Italy. National elections are scheduled for Sept. 25.
Now she is balancing on a high-stakes wire: persuading her hard-right base of “patriots” that she hasn’t changed, while seeking to convince international skeptics that she’s no extremist — and that Italy’s mostly moderate voters trust her and her party, the Brothers of Italy, so they should, too. Her support in polls has risen from 4 percent in 2018 to 25 percent.
Meloni, whose campaign slogan is “Ready,” has become a staunch supporter of NATO and Ukraine and says she backs the E.U. and the euro. But global markets and the European establishment remain wary, given her inflammatory past remarks and gushing support for Viktor Orban of Hungary, Marine Le Pen of France and illiberal democracies in Eastern Europe.
Sweden: The rise of the far-right Sweden Democrats to become the country’s second-largest party in last week’s elections seemed inevitable. But it still had the ability to shock.
Princess Anne’s rising star
Princess Anne, now 72, is 16th in the line of succession to the British throne. But that understates her influence: The only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II is a trusted adviser to her brother, King Charles III, and is popular with the public. Anne is famously one of the hardest workers in the royal family, often logging more than 400 public events a year.
Though she is not technically the most senior female royal — she is outranked by Charles’s wife, Camilla, the queen consort, and Princess Charlotte, the 7-year-old daughter of Prince William — her mother’s death gives Anne new status as a senior female figure in the House of Windsor.
The new king will rely on his sister, who is known as the Princess Royal, to keep up her busy schedule of public duties in a slimmed-down royal family. She is also likely to advise him on delicate family matters, like how to handle their younger brother, Prince Andrew, who has been in a kind of exile since the disclosure of his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sexual predator.
Life story: Anne has competed in the 1976 Montreal Olympics as an equestrian; suffered a failed first marriage to Mark Phillips, also an Olympic equestrian; settled into a stable second one, with Timothy Laurence; and survived a kidnapping attempt in 1974, telling the gunman who ordered her out of her car, “Not bloody likely!”
Arrangements: Anne was on hand for her mother’s final hours at Balmoral Castle in Scotland and then accompanied the coffin on a six-hour trip to Edinburgh. The processions, mourning and commemorations that have followed the queen’s death will culminate on Monday with her funeral at 11 a.m. London time at Westminster Abbey.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
New research suggests that climate change has worsened Pakistan’s deadly floods.
Financial markets show an unease about Britain’s economic outlook, amid concerns over Prime Minister Liz Truss’s fiscal plans and the country’s rocky trading relationship with the E.U. The country’s inflation rate slowed slightly, to 9.9 percent.
Germany agreed to one of its largest-ever Holocaust reparations packages: $1.2 billion. About $12 million will go to about 8,500 survivors who remain in Ukraine.
The Mexican authorities arrested a top military officer who is suspected of ordering the killing of at least six of 43 students who disappeared in 2014.
Other Big Stories
The governors of Florida and Texas sent migrants to liberal areas in Washington, D.C., and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, trying to provoke outrage over record numbers of arrivals at the southern border.
A U.S. judge has not agreed to the Justice Department’s proposal to resume a key part of the investigation into files seized at Donald Trump’s residence in Florida.
President Biden signed an executive order designed to block Chinese investment in U.S. technology.
European lawmakers voted to phase out some wood-energy subsidies that have contributed to deforestation without curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
What Else Is Happening
Our technological capabilities for detecting signs of extraterrestrial civilizations have greatly expanded. Here’s what that means.
Marvel has cast an Israeli actress to play a mutant Mossad agent in the next “Captain America” film, angering Palestinians and their supporters.
As it confronts numerous urgent problems, Britain’s National Health Service has announced a new reform: abandoning the Oxford comma.
A Morning Read
“It could last three minutes or three hours,” Chris Dzierman, a bridge painter in San Francisco, said as he looked out toward the horizon. “It’s fog. It’s got a mind of its own.”
The ebb and flow of San Francisco’s fog has long shaped life in the city. Now, some scientists fear that climate change is making it disappear.
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
How Keira Walsh became the most expensive female player in soccer history: From Manchester to Barcelona, Walsh is now in the record books. This is how her game-changing transfer took place.
The state of England’s squad: With a World Cup just two months away, here we are. Some big names, like Marcus Rashford, who hasn’t kicked a ball for England since his fateful penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final, and Jadon Sancho, miss the cut as the World Cup looms. Is there any way back? And what of the surprise inclusions? Let’s dig into what it all means.
The pass of the season and the goal of the season — at the same time? Erling Haaland is a goal machine, but he outdid himself with his acrobatic winner in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Roger Federer’s last lap
Roger Federer is retiring. The Swiss star, who won 20 Grand Slam singles titles, dominated men’s tennis for two decades.
“I am 41 years old; I have played more than 1,500 matches over 24 years,” Federer said on social media. “Tennis has treated me more generously than I ever would have dreamed, and now I must recognize when it is time to end my competitive career.”
Federer said injuries and surgeries had taken their toll on his body. He will continue to play, he said, but will no longer compete on the ATP Tour or in Grand Slam tournaments, like Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. His final competitive matches will be next week in London. See photos from his career.
“His anticipation and court sense are otherworldly, and his footwork is the best in the game,” David Foster Wallace wrote in an appraisal of Federer’s game in 2006. “All this is true, and yet none of it really explains anything or evokes the experience of watching this man play.”
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
The hardest part about making this stew is not eating all the garlic-strewn crispy chickpeas right after you’ve made them.
The Catalonian town of Sitges has 17 beaches and a quiet, timeless charm that draws visitors back year after year.
What to Read
The Finnish novelist Pajtim Statovci on how to read your way through Helsinki.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: From whom we get the phrase “crying wolf” (five letters).
And here are 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. Michael Slackman, who has led the International desk since 2016, will take on a new leadership role overseeing the daily news report.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on abortion in the U.S.
You can reach Natasha and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.