Your Tuesday Briefing: A Major Ukrainian Strike

Ukrainian forces fired toward Russian positions in the Donetsk region this weekend.Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

Ukraine kills dozens of Russians

Ukraine launched a major attack against a building housing Russian soldiers in the Donetsk region on New Year’s Day.

A full picture of the casualties is still emerging. Ukraine claimed that “about 400” had died, while Russia said yesterday that 63 service members had been killed.

But even with the lower figure, the attack was one of the deadliest strikes against Russian forces in Ukraine since the war began.

Mistakes by Russian forces may have contributed to the toll. One Russian military blogger said that “ammunition stored in the same building” had detonated in the strike. And Russian state media outlets said that the attack had been caused by the soldiers’ use of cellphones, which helped Ukrainian forces pinpoint their location.

Details: Ukraine used HIMARS, a guided rocket system supplied by the U.S. Since June, these weapons have helped Ukraine to shift the momentum of the war.

Food: The Russian blockade of grain shipments from Ukraine has made global starvation worse.

In Guangzhou, the commercial hub of southern China, streets are lined with shuttered stores and workshops.Credit…Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

China’s shaky economic recovery

China’s economic path forward is likely be uneven and painful. Years of Covid lockdowns have taken a brutal toll on its businesses. After the country’s chaotic reopening, the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus has deprived them of workers and customers, even though the reversal of restrictions was meant to improve the economy.

The global economy is also slowing, as shoppers tighten their budgets at home and abroad. Manufacturing activity in China contracted in November and December. Many Chinese workers are now looking for ways to rebuild their savings, even as the Lunar New Year holiday approaches later this month, a time when families typically splurge.

The weak spending is also further depressing the profit margins of many of China’s small private businesses, which power its economy. Stores and car dealerships face a surplus of unsold products. And a survey released on Saturday found that for service industries like restaurants, business last month was almost as bad as it was in early 2020.

The State of the War

  • Donetsk Attack: Ukrainian forces used U.S.-supplied guided rockets to hit a building housing Russian soldiers in an occupied eastern city, both sides said, in one of the deadliest strikes on Moscow’s forces in the war.
  • Russian Airstrikes: Ten months into the war, Ukraine has turned the tide on the ground, but it can do little to stop Russia’s aerial attacks, even if its air defenses lessen their impact. For Ukrainians, there are few options but to endure.
  • Global Starvation: A global food crisis, one of the farthest-reaching consequences of the war, is worsening as winter sets in and Moscow presses assaults on Ukraine’s infrastructure.
  • A New Alliance: The United States is scrambling to stop Iran from producing drones, as officials believe the Middle Eastern nation is building a partnership with Russia.

Bright spots: The lifting of quarantine rules has helped drive sales of airline tickets ahead of the Lunar New Year. And the removal of daily P.C.R. testing on people and imported goods has saved time and money for both companies and workers.

Youth: This month, as many as 2.6 million applicants will compete for 37,100 prestigious entry-level government jobs. Although the work offers stability at a time when youth unemployment is high, it can be monotonous and draining.

The public viewing ends on Wednesday evening.Credit…Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Benedict XVI lies in state

At least 65,000 people paid their respects to Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus, yesterday, the Vatican said. Benedict died on Saturday at 95, and is lying in state at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

Benedict was the church’s pre-eminent conservative thinker and leader, once called “God’s Rottweiler” by his critics. But Pope Francis, his successor, has undone much Benedict’s legacy by firing and stripping authority from some of his top cardinals. Now, with Benedict’s death, conservatives in the church have lost a north star.

Details: Benedict rested on a simple dais in front of the main altar, dressed in traditional red and white garments, his hands crossed beneath a rosary. There were no other papal insignia or regalia, such as the silver staff with a crucifix.

What’s next: Benedict’s funeral is on Thursday. Francis will officiate. Italian officials expect about 60,000 people to attend.

Opinion: Benedict’s legacy will be felt across decades, or even centuries, Ross Douthat writes.


Asia Pacific

A collision appeared to have occurred as one was landing and the other was taking off, the police said.Credit…Dave Hunt/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Four people died yesterday when two helicopters collided midair in a tourist area in Queensland, Australia, on the Gold Coast.

  • Australia blocked a cruise ship from docking after identifying a possibly toxic organism on its hull. Passengers were stuck for six days.

  • Floods have killed at least 51 people in the Philippines, The Associated Press reports.

Around the World

Nurses in England, Northern Ireland and Wales walked out twice last month.Credit…Maja Smiejkowska/Reuters
  • Labor strikes continue to disrupt life in Britain. But they have a surprising amount of public support.

  • Dubai suspended its 30 percent tax on alcohol, which could bring in more tourists as regional competition grows.

  • Activists have been blocking traffic in Germany, bringing attention to climate change while angering the public.

  • The actor Jeremy Renner is in critical but stable condition after an accident plowing snow.

A Morning Read

Hollywood has generally turned its back on Kevin Spacey because of sexual assault accusations against him.Credit…Karla Juric

A right-wing filmmaker in Croatia is making a movie celebrating Franjo Tudjman, the country’s first president, whom some call a patriot and others revile as an ethnonationalist zealot.

The director has cast Kevin Spacey; he thinks both men have been unfairly maligned.


2023 in culture

Welcome to a new year of culture. Among the releases that New York Times critics are most looking forward to:

Margaret Lyons can’t wait for Season 4 of “Succession”: “Oh, I can hear the jangly piano theme now, and just knowing that the bereft and broken Roys, their gorgeously cruel dialogue and endless, joyless quests for power will be back on my screen soon fills me with elation.”

Mike Hale is eagerly awaiting two crime dramas that take different approaches to a venerable format, the mystery of the week: “Accused” on Fox and “Poker Face” on Peacock. Both premiere this month.

Zachary Woolfe recommends a production of Wagner’s “Lohengrin.” The production has been absent longer than the other 25 or 30 titles at the center of the Metropolitan Opera’s history. “It’ll be a major event when, on Feb. 26, the opera finally returns to New York in a new staging.”

Browse all the recommendations, including dance, art and more.


What to Cook

Credit…Armando Rafael for The New York Times

J. Kenji López-Alt’s new recipe for velvety scrambled eggs adapts a technique from making Chinese egg drop soup — gently poaching a thin stream of beaten eggs in simmering liquid.

What to Listen to

Five podcasts about the British royal family.

What to Read

Don DeLillo’s 1985 book, “White Noise,” newly adapted for the screen by Noah Baumbach, precisely diagnosed the modern condition.


Dakar is a kaleidoscope of street style.

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Spurt (four letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

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

P.S. Support from The Times’s annual Neediest Cases Fund has bolstered recipients as their journeys continue.

“The Daily” will return tomorrow.

Email us at [email protected].

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