Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times

Russian forces desperately need new soldiers. Already, the government is using what some analysts call a “stealth mobilization” to bring in new recruits without resorting to a politically risky national draft. “Russia has a problem with recruitment and mobilization,” said Kamil Galeev, an analyst specializing in Russia. “It is basically desperate to get more men using any means possible.”

To make up the shortfall, the Kremlin is relying on impoverished ethnic minorities, Ukrainians from the separatist territories, mercenaries and militarized National Guard units to fight the war. Volunteers are promised hefty cash incentives. But analysts have raised doubts about how long Russia can sustain its offensive in Ukraine without a general mobilization.

For now, avoiding a draft for adult males allows the Kremlin to maintain the fiction that the war is a limited “special military operation,” while minimizing the risk of the kind of public backlash that spurred the end of previous Russian military debacles, like the one in Afghanistan and the first Chechen war.

Casualties: The numbers of battlefield dead and wounded are closely held secrets on both sides. The British military recently estimated the number of dead Russians at 25,000, with tens of thousands more wounded, out of an invasion force of 300,000, including support units.

In other news from the war:

  • After seizing control of Luhansk Province, the Russian military has turned its attention to the neighboring province of Donetsk.

  • Brittney Griner, the W.N.B.A. player who has been detained in Russia on drug charges since February, was honored by her fellow players during the league’s All-Star Game in Chicago yesterday.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, and Ranil Wickremesinghe, the prime minister, are in hiding after huge protests roiled the capital, Colombo, this weekend. Other officials have said the two intend to resign, and it is not clear who is running the country. Whoever takes the reins will be faced by a crisis, analysts said, inheriting a crashed economy and an exhausted and furious public.

Opposition leaders clamored to decipher Rajapaksa’s intentions: whether he would indeed quit or whether his silence is a sign that he is gauging his options for a protracted fight. Discussions on who might succeed him were also taking shape, with the speaker of the Parliament viewed as the likely choice for interim president.

Sri Lanka’s downward spiral has played out against a backdrop of global instability. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the economic sanctions against Moscow that followed, inflation, high energy prices and food shortages have afflicted much of the world. Even before that, the pandemic had disrupted the supply chain.

Scenes: The British colonial-era building serving as Rajapaksa’s official residence has effectively become a free museum. A stream of visitors have packed into the halls and stairways, and activists have put out calls encouraging people to visit the other top compounds they had overrun: the president’s offices and the prime minister’s residence.

Executives from the American military contractor L3Harris visited Israel in recent months in an attempt to purchase NSO Group. The cyberhacking firm has been placed on a U.S. government blacklist because its spyware, Pegasus, has been used to penetrate the phones of political leaders, rights activists and journalists.

American intelligence officials quietly supported the plans to purchase NSO, the executives said in talks in Israel. But White House officials said that they were outraged to learn about the negotiations, and that any attempt by American defense firms to purchase a blacklisted company would be met with serious resistance. L3Harris then said it had scuttled its plans.

Questions remain about whether parts of the U.S. government had hoped to bring control of NSO’s powerful spyware under U.S. authority. It also left unsettled the fate of NSO, whose technology has been a tool of Israeli foreign policy even as the firm has become a target of intense criticism for the ways its spyware has been used by governments against their citizens.

Context: The episode was the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle among nations to gain control of some of the world’s most powerful cyberweapons, and it reveals some of the headwinds faced by a coalition of nations — including the U.S. under the Biden administration — as it tries to rein in a lucrative global market for sophisticated commercial spyware.

“Africa Fashion,” a landmark exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, charts the influence of Africa’s fashion scene.

“There is not one singular African aesthetic, nor is African fashion a monoculture that can be defined,” said Christine Checinska, the museum’s first curator of African and African diaspora fashion. Instead, the show focuses on the ethos of Pan-Africanism embraced by many of the continent’s designers and artists. “It centers on abundance, not on lack,” she added.

In two decades of flying, things have never been as stressful as they are now, writes Kristie Koerbel, a veteran flight attendant. “Historically, summer is always a challenging time to fly, but this summer is much worse,” she writes. The key is to travel smart. Read all her tips here.

Always fly direct. That way if you are delayed, you don’t need to worry about making your next flight. If you can’t avoid connecting, don’t book the shortest layover: A one-hour layover is not enough anymore. In most cases, three hours is safe.

Fly as early in the day as possible. The first flights of the day rarely cancel. Thunderstorms build as the day gets warmer, flight crews reach their duty limits later in the day and traffic builds at busy airports. If your early flight does happen to cancel, there will be more options to rebook a different flight.

Think twice about the cheapest fares. If you buy the cheapest seats you may not be able to sit with your family. Also, be aware that if a flight is oversold, and no one volunteers to give up their seat, the first to be bumped will be the family that saved a few dollars by using a bargain website.

Bring a sweater. Here is a flight attendant secret: We sometimes keep the airplane cold intentionally. For people who struggle with airsickness, heat makes it worse. We don’t want anyone to use those sick sacks.

For more: Here’s what to know if your bag doesn’t arrive when you do.

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

P.S. The financial reporter Joe Rennison is joining The Times to cover markets and trading.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on Boris Johnson’s resignation.

You can reach Natasha and the team at

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