Your Thursday Briefing

Gazprom’s Orenburg gas processing plant in Russia. Credit…Alexander Manzyuk/Reuters

Putin’s energy influence is weakening, Europe says

Russian officials are watching and waiting for what they believe is the inevitable collapse of European resolve, as the economic pain from a lack of Russian gas bites. But increasingly, Europe’s leaders are signaling that, having spent months preparing for this moment, they are ready for the showdown.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, European energy ministers and diplomats have been scrambling to organize energy deals ahead of a potentially rough winter without Russian gas. Over that time, Russia has vastly reduced supplies or suspended them for days at a time. Finally, last week, it halted flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that supplies Germany and much of Europe.

When the blow finally came, it provoked more ridicule than outrage among European leaders, who say that by now they would expect nothing less from Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and that they have accepted that the era of cheap Russian gas is over, unimaginable as that might have seemed just months ago.

Markets: After rising 5 percent on the heels of Gazprom’s announcement, prices are now lower than they were at the start of last week.

Quotable: For decades, dating to the days of the Soviet Union, Moscow had insisted to Germany and others that it was a stable energy partner. “Something that held true throughout the Cold War no longer applies,” Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, said. “Russia is no longer a reliable energy supplier. That is part of the new reality.”

Prime Minister Liz Truss at her first cabinet meeting.Credit…Pool photo by Frank Augstein

Challenges for Britain’s new prime minister

Liz Truss, Britain’s new prime minister, who is today set to announce a plan to limit the sharp rise in energy costs, will have no shortage of issues to address in a country facing grave economic crises. But the most daunting challenges will come in more deprived British towns like Blackpool, where support for the Conservatives may waver if energy bills skyrocket.

Truss’s new cabinet, announced this week, on the one hand puts Britain indisputably ahead of many other European countries in the diversity of its political elite. But a significant number of its members were educated at private schools, as critics have observed — proof that social class, rather than race or gender, is perhaps the more telling dividing line in British politics.

The diversity of the cabinet can be traced to a former prime minister, David Cameron, who, after becoming party leader in 2005, altered the selection process for potential Conservative lawmakers. That tack effectively forced local parties to choose more diverse parliamentary candidates.

Priorities: Greater ethnic and gender diversity has not changed the policies of successive Conservative governments, which have grown increasingly hard-line on immigration and often embraced tax cuts and other economic policies that tend to favor wealthy people.

Vladimir Putin said he would meet in person with Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan next week.Credit…Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin

Russia edges closer to China

In a televised speech yesterday, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, struck a defiant tone as he announced a planned meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in Uzbekistan next week. The summit could help the Kremlin expand its relationship with China, a country Putin has called a “stable and reliable” partner after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The severing of economic ties with Western countries has pushed Russia into a speedy reorientation of its economy toward Asia, most of all China, making any meeting with Xi particularly important. In his remarks, Putin stressed that the West had failed in its “economic, financial and technological aggression” against Russia.

While Beijing has not declared support for the invasion, it has echoed the Kremlin’s talking points that the U.S. is the “main instigator” of the conflict. China has provided Russia with economic support amid Western sanctions, both as a supplier of everything from cars to smartphones and as a buyer of energy exports that are no longer in demand in the West.

Quotable: “We have not lost anything and will not lose anything,” Putin said. The Russian Defense Ministry has acknowledged hundreds of deaths in Ukraine, although that total has not been updated in months. The U.S. estimated last month that 80,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or wounded in the war.


Other Big Stories

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
  • After a long delay, portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama now hang in the White House. Here’s the story behind the former first lady’s portrait.

  • The second of two suspects in a deadly stabbing rampage in Canada has died in a hospital after being apprehended by the police.

  • As China’s “zero Covid” strategy continues,tens of millions of Chinese are still quarantined, schools are closed, businesses are in limbo and whole cities are at a standstill.

  • Stephen Bannon, a former adviser to Donald Trump, is expected to surrender to New York authorities today to face undisclosed state charges.

Around the World

Credit…Francois Lo Presti/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • France expelled a Moroccan imam accused of hate speech after a legal fight and debate over civil liberties.

  • Four journalists from an independent news outlet in Egypt were charged with criminal offenses as part of the government’s crackdown on the publication.

  • Jaap van Zweden, the Dutch music director of the New York Philharmonic, will lead the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

What Else Is Happening

  • Chichi, a 10-year-old chimpanzee, enjoyed about two hours of freedom after escaping from the Kharkiv Zoo in Ukraine this week before she was coaxed into returning atop a zookeeper’s bicycle.

  • Fashion month is “back back.” Here’s our guide to help you make sense of it all.

  • Apple introduced new iPhones and Watches. Here’s what’s new.

A Morning Read

Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times

A viral video from 2021 shows an intense, but nonviolent, confrontation in Arizona State University’s new multicultural room. The online brouhaha that followed was striking and no less intense, writes Sarah Viren for The Times Magazine.

“Online, that viral video briefly came to represent not just our university in its entirety but, in some interpretations, the state of higher education in this country as a whole,” Sarah writes. “It was a brief drama that was also a metaphor. But watching and rewatching that drama unfold from my computer, I kept asking myself: a metaphor for what?”


England star moves to Barcelona for world-record fee: Keira Walsh finished a dream summer by signing a three-year deal with Barcelona after her Euro 2022 glory. The Spanish club paid Manchester City $460,000 for her services.

Paul Pogba’s injury, delayed surgery and ramifications: Paul Pogba’s homecoming summer at Juventus was meant to be a fresh start, but unfortunately it has so far been one of frustration, tempered hopes and some off-field distraction. Now, it could hurt France in the World Cup, as well.

A U.S. tennis breakthrough: Frances Tiafoe, 24, advanced to his first Grand Slam semifinal and became the first American man to make the penultimate round at the U.S. Open since Andy Roddick in 2006. The No. 22-seeded Tiafoe will next play tomorrow.


The missing mystery writer

In 1926, the mystery writer Agatha Christie went missing. The story of her 11-day disappearance — as strange a plot as any of her novels — is part of a new biography by Lucy Worsley.

After her husband, Archie, began an affair with a younger woman, Christie fell into a depression. While out for a drive, she crashed her car down a hill and into a hedge. The car was found, but she was not; she had fled to a spa hotel, staying there under a false identity that shared a surname with her husband’s paramour. Finally, after more than a week, two musicians recognized her as the famous missing author.

“Whatever the true circumstances of Christie’s severance with reality, the media had a field day,” Molly Young writes in a review of the biography. “Her book sales shot up.”


What to Cook

Credit…Bryan Gardner for The New York Times

This recipe transforms two pounds of grated fresh zucchini into a sweet, jammy pasta sauce.

Ask Well

Are vasectomies reversible?

What to Read

“Strangers to Ourselves,” by Rachel Aviv, is an intimate and revelatory account of mental illness.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: ___ Nixon, former first lady (three letters).

And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. The Times is assembling a new team focused on data analysis of U.S. elections.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the nuclear plant standoff in Ukraine.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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