Wednesday Briefing

Adm. Viktor Sokolov, Russia’s Black Sea fleet commander, in Sevastopol, Crimea, last year.Credit…Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters

Did Ukraine kill a Russian admiral?

A day after announcing that Viktor Sokolov, a top Russian admiral, was among 34 officers killed in an audacious strike deep behind enemy lines, Ukrainian officials acknowledged yesterday that there might be some uncertainty. It came after Moscow released a video purporting to show the admiral attending a meeting earlier in the day.

“According to available sources, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet is among the dead,” the Ukrainian military’s statement said. “Many have not yet been identified due to the fragmentation of body parts.”

Given Moscow’s long history of refusing to acknowledge military setbacks, and the challenges of authenticating the video, Admiral Sokolov’s fate following the Ukrainian attack on the headquarters of Moscow’s fleet in Sevastopol, on the Crimean peninsula, remained unclear. Russian officials have not commented directly.

Details: In the clip, dated Sept. 26, an officer who appears to be Admiral Sokolov is seen on a video screen but does not speak. The video has been edited to show the fleet commander’s presence multiple times at the meeting, possibly to offer evidence that he was still alive.

For more: “It is so sad that we cannot go to our sea”: The war has halted maritime activity in Odesa, a port city deeply connected to the water.

In Canada: The speaker of the House of Commons resigned after apologizing for introducing as a “hero” a 98-year-old Ukrainian who had served with a Nazi SS unit.

The aftermath of the explosion.Credit…Republic Of Artsakh Ministry Of Internal Affairs, via Reuters

Death toll rises in Nagorno-Karabakh explosion

At least 68 people were killed and 105 remained missing after an explosion at a fuel depot in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, the region’s government said. The blast occurred as ethnic Armenians rushing to leave the region waited to refuel their cars.

More than 28,000 people have fled Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia in the past week as part of a mass exodus that began after a sudden military offensive brought the enclave back under Azerbaijan’s control. The shift in power has raised fears of ethnic cleansing in a region where decades of interethnic hatred have fueled wars, population shifts and atrocities.

Confusion: In an earlier statement, Armenia’s health minister, Anahit Avanesyan, said that the remains of 125 people had been transferred to forensic centers in Armenia. The human rights ombudsman of Nagorno-Karabakh, Gegham Stepanyan, later clarified that the 125 were war-related deaths.

The judge’s decision represents a major blow to Donald Trump.Credit…Rachel Mummey for The New York Times

Trump committed fraud, judge says

A New York judge, ruling that Donald Trump persistently and fraudulently inflated the value of his assets, stripped the former president of control over some of his signature New York properties.

The decision effectively decided that no trial was needed to determine that Trump had fraudulently secured favorable terms on loans and insurance deals.

Attorney General Letitia James has argued that Trump inflated the value of his properties by as much as $2.2 billion. She is seeking a penalty of about $250 million in a trial scheduled to begin as early as Monday. A lawyer for Trump indicated that he would appeal the decision.


Around the World

Credit…Zaid Al-Obeidi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • At least 100 people were killed and 150 more were injured in a fire at a wedding celebration in Iraq.

  • A diver with the Philippine Coast Guard cut a section of rope in the South China Sea, one of the most forceful steps yet in contesting China’s expanding territorial claims.

  • Five Bulgarians accused of spying for Russia in Britain appeared by video link in a London courtroom.

  • In echoes of the 1980s, Nicaragua’s government has begun confiscating the homes of former political prisoners and dissidents forced into exile.

  • British soldiers were briefly put on standby after some armed officers refused to carry their weapons in the wake of a fellow police officer being charged with murder.

From the U.S.

Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times
  • President Biden joined a group of striking General Motors workers in Michigan, an extraordinary gesture of support to a labor union.

  • After 148 days on strike, television and movie writers will begin returning to work today.

  • The U.S. and 17 states filed suit against Amazon, accusing it of illegally protecting a monopoly over swaths of online retail.

  • The federal antitrust case against Google, now in a third week, is shaping up to be perhaps the most secretive of its kind in decades.

  • J.P. Morgan Chase agreed to pay $75 million to the U.S. Virgin Islands to settle its claim that the bank had enabled Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking operation.

What Else Is Happening

  • Millions of years ago, the Ocucaje Desert in Peru was a gathering place for fantastical sea creatures: whales that walked, aquatic sloths and the world’s heaviest animal.

  • Scientists believe that a trafficked pangolin belongs to a previously unrecognized species of the strange mammal.

  • The governing body for gymnastics in Ireland apologized after a video showed an official who was handing out medals skip over a young Black girl.

A Morning Read

Credit…Andrew Testa for The New York Times

In a city known for being gray and damp, London’s parks teem with life — whenever the weather cooperates.

“The first thing that people do is flock to the parks,” one picnicker said of blue sky days. “There’s definitely a park culture.”


Derby Days, Copenhagen: Brondby vs. FC Copenhagen.

Ryder Cup: Ranking the players ahead of play at Marco Simone.

Red Bull’s constructors’ success: How Formula 1’s best got better.


Credit…Tampa Bay Times/ZUMA Wire, via Alamy

Pumpkin spice latte turns 20

For fall fanatics, the season doesn’t start until Starbucks begins selling its pumpkin spice latte, a sugary, cinnamon concoction that has defied global recessions, changing political headwinds and endless cycles of beverage and diet trends. (A medium has about 50 grams of sugar.)

Before Starbucks unveiled the drink, “pumpkin” simply did not exist as a consumer category at the scale familiar to Americans today. Now, pumpkin-flavored products this year accounted for $787 million in sales in the U.S., including pumpkin spice hummus and pumpkin spice deodorant — as well as a herd of generic copycats.

“A lot of people will say it’s a ‘basic’ white girl thing,” one fan said of the drink. She added: “People are throwing around ‘basic’ like it’s derogatory.”


Credit…Armando Rafael for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Cyd Raftus McDowell.

Turn a can of tuna into a spiced Somali pasta sauce.

Visit the best restaurants in Los Angeles.

Drink coffee, but don’t overdo it.

Revel in the intimacy (and embarrassment) of “marriage language.”

Play the Spelling Bee. And here are today’s Mini Crossword and Wordle. You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. Adam Nagourney, a longtime Times reporter, has a new book about the paper.

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

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