Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times

After a day of intense global diplomacy in Brussels, President Biden said Russia should be removed from the Group of 20 nations. If the other member countries do not agree to the expulsion, he said, then Ukraine should be allowed to participate.

Between back-to-back summits with NATO, the Group of 7 and the European Union, the U.S. also announced new sanctions, targeting more than 300 members of the Russian Parliament and dozens of defense companies, while moving to restrict Russia’s ability to use gold reserves to prop up its currency.

Biden also pledged to take in 100,000 refugees from Ukraine and donate $1 billion to help European nations handle the surge of displaced Ukrainians.

U.S. response: A majority of Americans feel Biden hasn’t cracked down hard enough on Russia, according to a poll.

A month into a war that began with widespread expectations of a quick Russian rout, Ukraine’s military is undertaking a counteroffensive that has altered the central dynamic of the fighting: The question is no longer how far Russian forces have advanced, but whether the Ukrainians are now pushing them back.

Ukraine has blown up parked Russian helicopters in the south and yesterday claimed to have destroyed a naval ship in the Sea of Azov. Its forces struck a Russian resupply convoy in the northeast. Western and Ukrainian officials also have claimed progress in fierce fighting around the capital, Kyiv, though such gains are hard to verify.

Ukraine’s progress has underscored the flawed planning and execution that has bedeviled Russian forces from the start, including supply shortages and demoralizing conditions. Those missteps have enabled Ukraine to unexpectedly go on the offensive, with a strategy of sending small units out from the capital to engage the Russians, often in ambushes.

Report: The British Ministry of Defense said the Ukrainian moves were “increasing pressure” on the Russians to the east of Kyiv. There was, it said, a “realistic possibility” that the Ukrainian counteroffensive could succeed in disrupting Russian forces.

The streets of Kharkiv: Denys Karachevtsev has played his cello in some of the most prestigious concert halls in the world. Now he is playing in the ruins of his Ukrainian hometown.

In more news from the war:


The Digital Markets Act, a new E.U. law, is the most sweeping piece of digital policy since the bloc put the world’s toughest rules to protect people’s online data into effect in 2018. It has the power to reshape app stores, online advertising, e-commerce, messaging services and other everyday digital tools.

The legislation is aimed at stopping the largest tech platforms from using their interlocking services and considerable resources to box in users and squash rivals, creating room for new entrants and fostering more competition. Violators of the law could face penalties of up to 20 percent of their global revenue — which could reach into the tens of billions of dollars.

As early as next month, the E.U. is expected to reach an agreement on a second law that would force social media companies such as Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, to police their platforms more aggressively. The legislation may bring the companies under a new era of oversight — just like health care, transportation and banking industries.

Effects: The law will limit the ability of companies like Google to collect data from different services to offer targeted ads without users’ consent and may require Apple to allow alternatives to its App Store for iPhones and iPads.

“Adults have a lot of say in what goes on in their children’s education. But also, they need to take in mind that their children are a different generation, and we think about things differently than they did.”

In our latest Times Opinion focus group, 12 teenagers explain what adults don’t get about their lives.

The European Tree of the Year competition was founded in 2011 as a way to celebrate the histories of old trees and develop bonds between nations around a subject that was seemingly as neutral as anything could be: trees.

But with war escalating in Ukraine, even a competition devoted to celebrating trees found itself unable to remain separate from global politics. Russia’s candidate — an oak tree said to have been planted 198 years ago by the novelist Ivan Turgenev — was disqualified, because of the country’s actions in Ukraine.

This year’s European Tree of the Year is a 400-year-old Polish oak, above, that sits in the Bialowieza Forest, the last primeval, or largely untouched by humans, forest in Europe’s lowlands. It symbolizes Poland’s resistance to aggression and its warm welcome to Ukrainian refugees, organizers said.

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