A deadly Russian strike on a sleepy provincial capital
A volley of Russian strikes yesterday morning on Vinnytsia, a city that had a prewar population of about 370,000 people in central Ukraine, killed at least 23 people, including three children. Late that evening, at least as many others were still lost in the rubble. In the attack, three Kalibr cruise missiles were launched from a submarine in the Black Sea.
More than 70 people were hospitalized and at least 50 buildings were damaged after the missiles struck, leaving behind a harrowing scene of smoking ruins. Hours after the strike, as firefighters doused water on the smoldering husks of overturned cars, bystanders stood by in shock.
Vinnytsia lies west of the Dnipro River, hundreds of miles from the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the focus of Moscow’s military campaign in recent weeks. The area has not experienced significant attacks since early March, days after Russia’s invasion.
Analysis: The strike was the latest example of Russia’s willingness to launch attacks on populated civilian areas. Some military experts say such strikes suggest Russia is running low on precision weaponry and is resorting to firing haphazardly at targets. Others see an intentional campaign of brutality meant to break Ukraine’s will to resist.
In other news from the war:
Italy’s political crisis
Mario Draghi, the Italian prime minister, tendered his resignation yesterday in response to a revolt by anti-establishment populists within his broad national unity government. But Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, “did not accept the resignation,” essentially freezing the political situation in place until next week, when Draghi will address Parliament.
The unexpected government turmoil has left Italy in a state of suspended animation at a time of upheaval for Europe. The E.U., of which Draghi is a fervent advocate as a former president of the European Central Bank, is struggling to keep unity in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Despite Draghi’s stated intention to resign, it remained possible that he could remain in power if key political players fall back in line. But there are forces within Italian politics that would welcome his departure, including the once powerful and anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the hard-right Brothers of Italy. Five Star precipitated this present crisis over a relief bill for soaring energy costs that included a garbage incinerator in Rome.
Tenure: Since taking office in early 2021, Draghi has led the country out of the worst days of the Covid pandemic and helped to shake Italy out of its political and economic malaise. He has brought moderate growth to Italy, made reforms to its justice system and tax code, streamlined bureaucracy and found diverse sources of energy away from Russia.
The U.S. and Israel diverge sharply on Iran
Yair Lapid, Israel’s caretaker prime minister, yesterday pushed President Biden to go beyond his public commitment to stopping Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon, declaring that all democratic nations must, if the Iranians continue to develop their nuclear program, vow to “use force.”
Biden did not repeat that commitment. Instead, he stuck to talking about blocking Iran from obtaining a weapon — not a program that might be intended to develop one.
The U.S. and Israel have sharply diverging approaches in dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Israel has conducted covert sabotage and assassination operations to slow Iran’s ability to enrich nuclear fuel, while Biden has insisted that diplomacy, and a restoration of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, is the best way to find a lasting solution.
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“The Devil Wears Prada.” “The Post.” “Big Little Lies.” “Don’t Look Up.”: Meryl Streep wears glasses in all of these blockbuster roles. In each film, she uses those spectacles to create “immensely satisfying” scenes, Amanda Hess, our critic at large, writes, in this reverent appraisal of Streep’s one weird trick, replete with GIFs.
“It’s stunning how often our most celebrated movie actress has built her performances on one of the form’s hackiest bits,” she writes. “I’ve come to see a pair of glasses on Streep’s face as a Chekhov’s gun: At some point you know they’re coming off, and it’s going to be fabulous.”
Seeing double: The same gold-rimmed glasses Streep wears as the fearsome fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada” also make a cameo in “Mamma Mia.”
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That’s it for today’s briefing. And a programming note: I’ll be away for the next three weeks. This newsletter will be written by one of my colleagues until I return in August.
Until next time. — Natasha
P.S. Corina Knoll, who has covered New York City for the past three years, will be our next Los Angeles bureau chief.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Sri Lanka.
You can reach Natasha and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.