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Your Monday briefing: Russia demands surrender at Mariupol


We cover Russia’s demands for surrender in Mariupol and the growing influence of the Houthis in the Middle East.

Russia warned on Sunday that the remaining Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol would be “eliminated” if they did not surrender, a sign of a potentially bloody battle to seize the southern port city.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it intercepted a radio transmission indicating that Ukrainian forces standing at a steel mill in Mariupol had “banned negotiations on surrender”. “In the event of further resistance,” the ministry said, reiterating a request to lay down arms immediately, “all will be eliminated.” A ministry spokesman said Russian forces surrounded about 2,500 Ukrainian troops at the plant.

Capturing the city would be a significant step forward for Russia in its attempt to control Ukraine’s southeastern coast, complete a land bridge to occupied Crimea and refocus its forces on the eastern Donbass region.

Brutality: The atrocities of Moscow’s war against Ukraine – the planned bombings and individual cruelty of soldiers and units, such as those perpetrated at Bucha – have deep roots in the Russian military.

The World Health Organization has calculated that 15 million people will have died from the coronavirus pandemic by the end of 2021, more than double previous estimates. But the publication of this estimate, which required more than a year of research, was delayed for several months due to objections from India, which tried to prevent such a calculation from becoming public.

India disputes the WHO’s assessment that at least four million people have died there from Covid – the highest tally in the world – and stands by its own tally of around 520,000. has wreaked havoc in the frozen world of health statistics. Many experts believe WHO data is key to understanding how the pandemic unfolded and what measures could mitigate a similar crisis in the future.

The official death toll in other countries, such as China and Russia, has also been called into question. The WHO reportedly found excess deaths of more than a million Russians during the pandemic, far more than the government’s estimate of 300,000. But while the Kremlin says it didn’t underestimate, the government made no effort to delay the release of the data.

In other developments:


When a scrappy band of rebels known as the Houthis stormed the mountains of northern Yemen in 2014, friend and foe dismissed them as unsophisticated tribal fighters. But during the civil war in Yemen, the group underwent a remarkable transformation.

The Houthis, officially known as Ansar Allah, or the Followers of God, now lead a repressive proto-state in northern Yemen. They control a vast arsenal that includes cruise missiles, suicide boats and long-range drones that threaten the Persian Gulf powers they waged war against, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Houthis’ rapid expansion of capabilities stems in large part from covert military aid from Iran, according to US and Middle Eastern officials. Iran has integrated the group into its militia network and enhanced the Houthis’ ability to overthrow Saudi defenses with relatively cheap weapons. But their rise has led to a regional realignment, with more Arab countries willing to side with Israel or the United States to counter Iran.

Strategy: Iran’s Houthi culture reflects the country’s support for other militias over the past three decades to expand its reach across the Middle East, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and groups in Syria and Iraq. This network, which includes the Syrian government, is called the Resistance Axis and aims to combat Israeli and American influence.

In Jerusalem’s Old City, a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim celebrated Easter, Passover and Ramadan together for the first time since 1991. For some, the overlap epitomized the wonder of Jerusalem. For others, the convergence has highlighted the incompatibilities and inequalities of a city where many Palestinian residents see themselves as living under occupation.

For dancers, touch is a routine. Today, when it comes to choreography simulating sex or violence on stage, some companies hire intimacy directors, writes Laura Cappelle in The Times.

In recent years, more and more films and plays have turned to intimacy directors to choreograph scenes and handle performers. But intimacy work for screen and theater doesn’t necessarily translate to dance, where the choreography usually can’t be changed. And the dancers were discouraged from talking. Stories of boundaries being crossed are commonplace in ballet, where training starts young and most companies maintain a strict hierarchy.

Intimate coaching sessions provide a space for dancers to air their concerns. For a Scottish Ballet production, the change of dancers was “instantaneous”, said the company’s director.

In one exercise, dancers used a drawing of a body to mark areas that felt vulnerable and then communicated those boundaries to their colleagues. “Seeing it in black and white and talking to your partner, it opens up all that confidence,” said one dancer. “And it wasn’t just me who said it. It was the whole group. »

The latest episode of ‘The Daily’ focuses on a case brought to the Supreme Court by a prisoner who spent decades in solitary confinement.

You can reach Matthew and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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