Saturday, 20 Apr 2024

Your Monday Briefing: The G7 Wraps

G7 wraps with support for Ukraine

The G7 summit concluded yesterday in Japan with leaders of the world’s major economies welcoming President Volodymyr Zelensky as an honored guest and reaffirming their support of Ukraine. But Russia claimed victory in Bakhmut, even though Ukraine says that it still holds a few blocks of the ruined city.

Even though Moscow is trumpeting a “Mission Accomplished” moment, Ukraine still sees an opening to seize the initiative from the city’s outskirts if Russian forces are no longer pressing forward inside the city’s center.

Russia’s capture of Bakhmut would be a powerful symbolic success. But controlling it would not necessarily help Russia toward its larger stated goal of conquering the eastern Donbas region. In fact, some analysts say that Russia’s ability to hold off a broader counteroffensive could be compromised if it continued to send reinforcements to defend Bakhmut.

Comparison: Zelensky acknowledged there was little left of Bakhmut. He said he saw echoes of Ukraine’s pain in images of the 1945 devastation in Hiroshima, where the summit was held.

Other updates from the G7:

F-16s: President Biden reversed course, agreeing to let Ukrainians be trained on the American-made jets. He told allies that he is prepared to approve other countries’ transferring the jets to Ukraine.

China: The G7 countries said they would focus on “de-risking, not decoupling” from Beijing.

Japan: Critics say the U.S. ambassador to Tokyo, Rahm Emanuel, is pushing too hard for gay rights.

A political fight looms in Thailand

Pita Limjaroenrat recently stunned Thailand’s political establishment by leading his progressive Move Forward Party to a momentous victory in last week’s elections. He seems poised to become the next prime minister — unless the military blocks him.

Pita needs 376 votes from the 500-member House of Representatives to overcome the military-appointed Senate. So far, he only has 314.

Several senators have said they would not support a candidate like Pita, who threatens the status quo. Now, Thais are waiting to see if their choice will be allowed to lead or if he will be blocked, an outcome that could plunge the country into political chaos.

Pita’s policies: He has promised to undo the military’s grip on Thai politics and revise a law that criminalizes criticism of the monarchy. He is pressing for a return to democracy after nine years of military rule that was preceded by a coup. He also wants to take a strong foreign policy stance.

A complaint: The Election Commission said Pita failed to disclose that he owned shares of a now-defunct media company that he inherited from his father. Pita said he reported the shares.

The Afghans at the U.S. border

For thousands of Afghans, the U.S. withdrawal from Kabul was just the beginning of a long search for safety. Many fled to South America — joining the vast human tide of desperation pressing toward the U.S. — to try to enter a nation that they feel left them behind.

Some had partnered with the West for years. They were lawyers, human rights advocates or members of the Afghan government. During their journeys to the U.S., nearly all of them are robbed or extorted, while some are kidnapped or jailed.

“I helped these Americans,” a former Afghan Air Force intelligence officer said from a detention center in Texas, sometimes near tears. “I am not understanding why they are not helping me.”

A dangerous journey: Since the beginning of 2022, some 3,600 Afghans have crossed the treacherous Darién Gap, which connects North and South America, according to data from Panama.

Reporting: My colleagues traveled with a group of 54 Afghans through the Darién Gap.


Asia Pacific

Typhoon Mawar could hit Guam as soon as Wednesday.

Police in Australia are investigating why an officer used a Taser on a 95-year-old woman with dementia last week.

Late last year, a couple in New York sheltered a South Korean tour group who got stuck in a blizzard in Buffalo. They recently reunited in Seoul.

Around the World

Warring groups in Sudan agreed to a seven-day cease-fire to begin today, the first truce to be signed by both sides.

Greece’s governing party leads in the election. But initial results show that it does not have a majority, setting the stage for another vote within weeks.

A stampede at a soccer stadium in El Salvador killed at least 12 people.

U.S. News

President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy are planning to meet today to try to avert a looming debt default.

Two Republicans are expected to enter the U.S. presidential race this week: Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.

A Morning Read

Zibo, a once-obscure city in China’s Shandong Province, is suddenly overrun with tourists. They arrived after hearing about its distinctive barbecue style on social media.

Lives lived: Martin Amis’s bleakly comic novels changed British fiction. He died at 73.


African architecture on the cutting edge

The Architecture Biennale that opened Saturday in Venice explores how cultures from Africa can shape the buildings of the future.

For the first time, the exhibition will have a curator of African descent, Lesley Lokko, and more than half of the Biennale’s 89 participants are from Africa or the African diaspora.

The work of Sechaba Maape, which is inspired by South Africa’s first nations and their connection to nature, is being shown in that country’s national pavilion. Globally, architecture has begun to trend toward biomimicry, in which the built environment emulates the natural one. African design, says Maape, has always done this through pattern and form. The response in Venice and on social media has been overwhelming, he said.

“Architecture should be the thing that instead of separating us from our home, the Earth, should help us feel more mediated, more connected,” Maape told Lynsey Chutel, our Briefings writer in Johannesburg.


What to Cook

A Rob Roy, which swaps out the rye for Scotch, is a muskier take on a classic manhattan.

What to Watch

In “White Building,” a richly observed coming-of-age story from Cambodia, the tale of an apartment complex mirrors the country’s fraught recent history.

What to Listen to

Hear new tracks by Bad Bunny, Sparks, Anohni and others in our weekly playlist.

Where to Go

Spend 36 hours in Buenos Aires.

The News Quiz

Test your memory of last week’s headlines.

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Furry aquatic mammal (five letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Lynsey Chutel wrote today’s Spotlight on Africa. See you tomorrow. — Amelia

P.S. Our sister newsletter, The Australia Letter, wants to hear from its readers.

“The Daily” is about the darker side of James Webb, for whom a famous telescope is named.

I’m always available at [email protected].

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