Your Tuesday Briefing

Protests in Israel spread to the military

Hundreds of soldiers in Israel’s military reserves have signed letters expressing a reluctance to participate in nonessential duty or have already pulled out of training missions in response to a plan by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to severely curtail the powers of Israel’s Supreme Court, officials said.

The affected sections include the 8200 unit, which deals with signal intelligence and cyberintelligence and whose graduates have helped drive the country’s tech industry, as well as elite combat units. Top military officials fear that growing anger within the ranks over the government’s plans will affect the operational readiness of Israel’s armed forces.

Within the Air Force, reserve duty pilots are increasingly upset over the government plans, the officials said. They also fear that they may be asked to engage in illegal operations and that restraints on Israel’s judiciary may strengthen foreign calls to prosecute Israeli personnel in the International Criminal Court, the officials said.

Context: The unrest within the military is the latest flare-up of opposition to the government’s plans to overhaul the judiciary, which many Israelis believe will undermine the country’s democracy. That view is shared by many military officers, a number of whom have participated in regular protests.

Ukraine doubles down in Bakhmut

Ukraine’s top generals have signaled that, rather than retreat from the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut, they want to bolster its defenses, as they pursue a strategy of bleeding the Russian army in a battle of attrition before a planned Ukrainian counterattack.

Ukraine has calculated that the brutal siege is weakening and tying down Russia’s military, even as Kyiv awaits a new arsenal of weaponry from the West to help it to retake occupied territory elsewhere. This achievement, Ukrainian officials say, justifies their own high casualty toll, though soldiers and some analysts have questioned the wisdom of defending a ruined city.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, made no mention made of a possibility some independent analysts have described — a quiet, gradual Ukrainian pullback into smaller, easier-to-defend pockets within the city, rather than a broad, sudden retreat.

On the front lines: Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, which has led Russian assaults on Bakhmut, said yesterday that Russia was at risk of losing the battle — just days after he had claimed to have the Ukrainians on the brink of defeat. He has urged Russia’s military to send reinforcements and ammunition.

Analysis: Bakhmut itself has little strategic value, but it has taken on heightened symbolic importance for both sides. The battle has created a marathon contest, as each army fights to break the other.

Other updates:

In a rare admission, Ukraine said one of its drones had destroyed an unmanned watch tower in Russia.

Estonian voters have elected a government that has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest backers.

The Russian soldiers lost to the war

Ivan Ovlashenko, 30, was not especially political. But as Russia’s war in Ukraine intensified, his relatives recalled, he suddenly began parroting the government’s talking point about the West’s plans to use Ukraine as a staging ground to attack Russia. He would need to fight in Ukraine, he said, adding: “What am I, not a man? I need to protect my country, my daughter.”

Ovlashenko, a devoted father who worked in merchandising for Pepsi, was among the thousands of Russian casualties. Western intelligence officials estimate that 200,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded, of whom more than 16,000 have been confirmed dead in public sources. The true number is undoubtedly far higher and harder for the Kremlin to conceal.

Last September, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, ordered the mobilization of 300,000 men — factory laborers and electricians, medical orderlies and basketball players, tractor drivers and school workers — to bolster sagging Russian defenses in Ukraine. More than five months later, dead and wounded men are returning to Russia — some, like Ovlashenko, whose family called him Vanyuk, in zinc coffins.

Analysis: “The numbers are secret,” said Max Trudolyubov, a Russian political analyst and newspaper columnist based in Vilnius, Lithuania. “The mobilized are from small towns, faraway places. The strategy is to spread the losses as thinly as possible across the country.”


Around the World

A coalition of parties seeking to unseat Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the leader of Turkey chose Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a veteran opposition politician, as its candidate for elections in May.

South Korea announced that it would set up a fund to pay victims of forced Japanese labor during World War II.

The U.S. may undertake a mass campaign to vaccinate chickens against avian influenza after an outbreak that has killed tens of millions of the birds.

An Indian journalist has started a news outlet focused on Dalit and other marginalized groups, hoping that telling their stories will help improve their lives.

Other Big Stories

The Biden administration is considering reviving the practice of detaining migrant families who cross the border illegally.

The White House is considering pushing Congress to give it more legal power to monitor apps like TikTok and other technology that could expose sensitive data to China.

“If we nominate him again, we’re guaranteed a loss,” Paul Ryan, the Republican former House speaker, said of Donald Trump.

Toblerone will drop an image of the Matterhorn from its packaging as it moves some production out of Switzerland.

A Morning Read

The Czech Republic baseball team, made up of ordinary guys with regular jobs, is the second-best national team in Europe. This year, the team has qualified for the World Baseball Classic — a battle of the game's top professional players.

“In over 30 years of scouting, it’s the most remarkable achievement I’ve seen by a small country to qualify for the W.B.C.,” said Gene Grimaldi, an international baseball scout. “In terms of development, what they have done is really unbelievable in the history of baseball.”

Lives Lived

Gary Rossington, the last surviving original member of the rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd, has died at 71.


United crumbles: After Liverpool’s dominant 7-0 victory, United’s chances of winning the Premier League are over.

Will Alonso’s surprising finish lead to more Formula 1 wins? Fernando Alonso said his third-place finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix was “too good to be true” and fueled the belief he could win again in Formula One.

Xavi emulates Guardiola, but Barcelona has a long way to go: Barcelona beat Valencia in Xavi’s 50th game as a manager in La Liga. His team remains a work in progress.

From The Times: The tennis star Novak Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against Covid-19, has lobbied for an exemption to play at U.S. tournaments. So far, he has come up short.


Designer ice

For ice-loving Americans, frozen water is being redefined as a luxury item, Becky Hughes reports for The Times. At fashion-brand parties, ice cubes stamped with a company’s logo are de rigueur. And on tables at high-end weddings, string lights in Mason jars are out and wildflowers suspended in $14 ice cubes are in.

As in so many arenas of culture, TikTok is leading the way. Creators show off stacked ice drawers and specialty molds, and the hashtag #icetok has become a social media phenomenon. Ice is seen as a blank canvas for artistry.

Americans have loved ice since the early 1800s, said Jonathan Rees, a professor of history at Colorado State University Pueblo. “We’re willing to spend on something that’s essentially free,” he said. “That’s a sign that we value it.”


What to Cook

Fill hamantaschen with chocolate chips, apricot jam or this savory mixture of caramelized onion and poppy seed.

Ask Well

Why do so many men avoid doctor’s visits?

What to Read

In “The Farewell Tour,” Stephanie Clifford follows a veteran singer who is ending her career on her own terms.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Tina of “30 Rock” (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. See you tomorrow. — Natasha

P.S. Thomas Gibbons-Neff, a former Marine who has reported on the war in Ukraine, will now cover the country full time for The Times.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the fallout of a train derailment in Ohio.

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

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