Donbas’s fate is ‘being decided’
President Volodymyr Zelensky described the battle for Sievierodonetsk as a crucial moment in what is increasingly a war of attrition in eastern Ukraine. “The fate of our Donbas is being decided there,” he said.
Ukrainian forces are outgunned by the Russians. The city is burning as the sounds of gunfire echo from vicious street-by-street combat. If Sievierodonetsk and its sister city Lysychansk fall, Russia will control all of Luhansk, one of two provinces in the Donbas region.
Ukraine’s defense minister said his country “desperately needs heavy weapons, and very fast.”
Both sides are still struggling to control what Zelensky has called “dead cities,” as Russian bombardment further destroys the metropolises in the east. Here are live updates.
Deaths: Ukraine is keeping its casualty numbers secret. But on the front lines, fresh graves show how relentless the fighting has become.
The U.S. begins Jan. 6 hearings
The House panel investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol opened public hearings in Washington on Thursday night and began setting out the findings from its nearly yearlong investigation.
Lawmakers began the session by presenting previously unreleased video testimony from people close to former President Donald Trump. They also shared footage revealing the role of the far-right group the Proud Boys in the riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
Together, the testimony and the lawmakers’ interpretations were used not only to highlight the threat that the activities that led up to the attack posed to American democracy but also to put Trump in the center of what Representative Bennie Thompson, the committees’s chairman, called “a sprawling, multistep conspiracy aimed at overturning the election.”
“Jan. 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup,” he said.
Resources: The Times has constructed an exhaustive timeline of the attack — the planning beforehand, the events at the Capitol and the preparation for the hearings.
Trump: Lawyers plan to question Trump under oath as part of a separate investigation into his business practices that is being led by the New York State attorney general’s office.
Related: The F.B.I. arrested Ryan Kelley, who is running for governor in Michigan. He faces misdemeanor charges, including disorderly conduct, in connection with the Capitol riot.
But the experts said that more Chinese data was needed to study how the virus spread to people — including the possibility that a lab leak played a role.
The team, which was appointed by the W.H.O. in October as it tried to reset its approach to studying the pandemic’s origins, said that Chinese scientists had shared information with them, but gaps in Chinese reports made it difficult to determine when and where the outbreak emerged. No new data pointed to a lab leak, the new report said, but the group said that they wanted to evaluate any evidence that emerges in the future.
Looking ahead. Independent experts said it was unclear how the team, which follows a previous group of scientists that the W.H.O. sent to China in early 2021, could help the organization break through the political barriers in China that have stalled the publication of most information about the virus’s origins.
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Around the World
Germany, the world’s fifth-largest per capita beer consumer, is facing a severe shortage of beer bottles, partly because of the war in Ukraine. The country has a returnable-bottle system that is climate-friendly and appeals to Germans’ obsession with recycling, but it comes with one major problem: getting people to return their empties.
Dragging a crate of empty glass bottles back to a store can be a hassle, even if it means getting back a deposit fee. Still, beer itself is in good supply and brewers remain optimistic. “We will get through this,” said Stefan Fritsche, who runs a brewery that has existed for centuries.
A controversial golf tour
An upstart professional golf circuit, the LIV Series, held its first event yesterday in Britain. The tour has attracted stars including Phil Mickelson, above right, and Dustin Johnson to help it compete with the dominant PGA Tour.
But it has also attracted scorn because of its biggest investor: the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia.
Why are golfers going to LIV? The Saudis’ remarkably large purse. Mickelson was reportedly paid $200 million to join, and Johnson $150 million. The prize money for this weekend’s event alone is $25 million; Tiger Woods, by contrast, has won $120 million over his entire PGA career.
What’s the controversy? Critics have accused Saudi Arabia of using its oil profits to buy major sports organizations and sanitize its image. Mickelson lost endorsements after joining, and he acknowledged that Saudi Arabia had a “horrible record on human rights,” including the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
What is the PGA’s reaction? It has aggressively sought to thwart the Saudi tour. Yesterday, the PGA Tour said it had suspended the 17 players who had taken part.
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What to Cook
That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining us. — Jonathan and Amelia
P.S. Kevin Quealy will be the next editor of The Upshot.
The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the Proud Boys’ path to the Capitol riot.
You can reach Jonathan, Amelia and the team at [email protected].