Your Friday Briefing: A Million Refugees

We’re covering Russia’s advances in southern Ukraine and a mass exodus from the war.

Russian forces advanced in southern Ukraine on Thursday as the number of people who fled Ukraine reached one million, a week into Russia’s invasion. Follow our live updates.

Mariupol, a port city on the Sea of Azov, continued to hold out despite a massive Russian bombardment that had cut power, water and heat. After capturing the city of Kherson, Russian forces were moving toward Mykolaiv, one of Ukraine’s three largest ports.

Russia’s advance on the capital, Kyiv, however, appeared to be stalled for a third day as the Kremlin sent more troops into the country, according to a U.S. defense official.

The U.N. predicted that 10 million Ukrainians — roughly a quarter of the population — could be displaced, including about four million who could cross borders. Half a million children have fled into neighboring countries, UNICEF said.

With the war in Ukraine escalating, the U.S. and its allies are targeting key allies of President Vladimir Putin: Russian oligarchs.

It isn’t easy to freeze and seize these billionaires’ far-flung and hidden assets. In the U.S., a new team has been created in the Justice Department, known as Task Force KleptoCapture, to pursue the assets of “those whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue this unjust war,” the attorney general said.

Other countries are taking action as well: France, Germany, Japan and Britain have all announced plans to seize the billionaires’ assets, like yachts, or to discourage business dealings with them, some of whom have been placed on a sanctions list.

One of Russia’s best known oligarchs, Roman Abramovich, confirmed this week that he was trying to sell his Chelsea football club, days after British lawmakers moved to pass new legislation targeting wealthy Russians.

Tech controls: U.S. companies will be barred from exporting certain sensitive items that would support defense, aerospace and maritime industries in Belarus, the Biden administration announced, after it took the same steps for Russian industries last week. The limits also apply to international companies that use U.S. technology.

Arts world: Vladimir Potanin, one of Russia’s richest men, stepped down as a trustee of the Guggenheim Museum. Anna Netrebko, a superstar Russian soprano, will no longer appear at the Metropolitan Opera after failing to comply with the company’s demand that she distance herself from Putin.


New Zealand is being walloped by a major outbreak of the Omicron variant, with the virus spreading at what may be the fastest rate in the world.

The country reported 23,194 new cases on Thursday, a once unthinkable number in a small island nation that held off major outbreaks for years. The record daily case count until recently was in the low hundreds.

The explosion in cases has come as the government, under political pressure, loosened its strict pandemic regulations and as the highly transmissible Omicron reduced the effectiveness of the controls that remained.

Quotable: “This is the first time most New Zealanders are dealing with Covid-19 in their own homes,” said Siouxsie Wiles, a microbiologist at the University of Auckland.

Related: The last of Australia’s strict pandemic-era border restrictions have been lifted.

Asia Pacific

The company that oversees the estate of Dr. Seuss, the pen name of Theodor Seuss Geisel, announced this week that it would be publishing a new series of children’s books inspired by the author’s unpublished sketches. The books, which will be released starting next year, will be written and illustrated by a group of emerging artists from diverse backgrounds.

The announcement came a year after the company decided to stop publishing six of Geisel’s lesser-known books because of their racist content, a decision that divided public opinion at the time.

Each book will include an original, unpublished sketch by Dr. Seuss and a note from the artists explaining how they were inspired by it. Two such sketches, released ahead of the books’ publication, include an image of three colorful, smiling hummingbirds, and another of a mouse-like creature with fuzzy, elongated ears.

What to Cook

The trick to this one-pot pasta with sausage and spinach is seasoning the pasta water with cumin.

What to Read

In her new novel, “Glory,” NoViolet Bulawayo, the first Black woman from Africa to become a finalist for the Booker Prize, writes about a nation on the cusp of revolution.

What to Watch

The directors Bong Joon Ho and Ryusuke Hamaguchi talk about the best-picture Oscar nominee “Drive My Car.”

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: There are 10 in a decade (five letters).

Here’s today’s Wordle. (If you’re worried about your stats streak, play in the browser you’ve been using.)

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.


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

P.S. The Times photojournalist Lynsey Addario spoke to CNN about capturing the war’s impact on Ukrainians.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Russia’s changing strategy.

Manan Luthra wrote today’s Arts and Ideas, and Nancy Wartik contributed writing. You can reach Melina and the team at [email protected].

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