Your Wednesday Briefing: Sievierodonetsk, Isolated

Good morning We report on the growing isolation of Sievierodonetsk, China’s mass testing for Covid and the climate crisis in South Asia.

The eastern city of Sievierodonetsk is now cut off from Ukrainian-controlled territory after the last bridge to the west was destroyed. The development could exacerbate a humanitarian crisis at a critical juncture in the brutal struggle over the Donbass region, with hundreds of civilians trapped in the city.

As the outlook for Ukraine’s eastern front grows bleaker, some European officials are raising concerns about whether President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has a viable strategy to win the war.

The West’s growing reluctance to supply more arms is frustrating some Ukrainian leaders. “If you think we should lose, just tell us straight out: ‘We want you to lose,'” said a senior Zelenskyi adviser. Here are the latest updates.

What’s next: Western officials are due to meet in Europe this week to discuss the form of further aid to Ukraine. A senior Pentagon official said the US would not urge Ukraine to make peace against its will.

China, the last country trying to eliminate Covid, has made mass testing a regular part of everyday life. In many large cities, even in places with no reported cases, residents must present negative PCR tests to shop, use public transportation, and participate in other activities.

Officials hope the regular mass testing will help isolate cases before they develop into larger outbreaks. But politics could hamper efforts to revive China’s economy.

Workers say the time it takes to test is hurting their pay. Local governments take money from poverty alleviation projects to pay for the tests. Businesses fear the requirement will hurt productivity, and economists fear people will stay home to avoid the hassle.

Answer: Barely two weeks after Shanghai lifted its two-month lockdown, authorities imposed new lockdowns on millions of people, sparking isolated protests. The city has announced it will begin charging for tests in August.

South Asia is home to millions of the world’s most vulnerable people. Climate change is making their tough lives even more difficult as extreme weather events become the norm, making it harder to address poverty, food insecurity and health challenges.

Pakistan has been battling huge forest fires. In Bangladesh, millions of people were stranded by floods that came before the monsoons. Nepalese officials are attempting to drain bursting glacial lakes before washing away villages in the Himalayas facing shortages of drinking water.

And in India, the region’s largest grain supplier, farmers have faced unusually heavy rainfall and equally unusual heat. The weather has devastated farmers, many of whom are saddled with enormous debts and are dying by suicide in growing numbers. It has also threatened national and global food security.

Details: According to initial reports, India’s wheat harvest fell by at least 3.5 percent this year. Some districts in Punjab, traditionally India’s wheat basket, saw a 30 percent drop. March was the hottest month in India and Pakistan in 122 years of records, while rainfall was 60 to 70 percent below normal, scientists say.

Health: A new study found that air pollution in New Delhi shortened life expectancy there by nearly 10 years, Al Jazeera reported. And researchers are studying the ways extreme heat sickens and kills people.

The case raised profound ethical questions about whether the legal principle of habeas corpus – which people claim challenges illegal captivity – should be extended to highly intelligent animals.

Eric Kim has spent his entire life watching his mother cook.

When he was little, Eric writes, he was “a little shadow who followed her around our kitchen in suburban Atlanta, trying her kimchi for sugar and salt; helping her pick and wash perilla leaves from the garden for a family dinner with Ssam; or, later in life, sitting by the kitchen island and watching her crush gim, that deliciously roasted seaweed, over a homecoming plate of kimchi fried rice.”

Now Eric lives in New York City. He is a cookbook author and a columnist for Times Magazine. But his mother Jean is omnipresent in his kitchen. “The way I cook now, the way I move and breathe in my New York City kitchen has echoes of her movements, her breath.”

Eric has developed recipes that, for him, define Korean cuisine. “If I could only have 10 Korean dishes for the rest of my life, these would be these,” he writes. Enjoy.

You only need 15 minutes for this zucchini dish with chickpeas and peanuts.

A novel originally published in Dutch, Grand Hotel Europa is a comedy about what tourism has done to Europe.

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