Analysis & Comment

Your Wednesday Briefing: Wagner Chief in Exile

Prigozhin arrives in Belarus

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, arrived in Belarus yesterday, state media reported. The Russian authorities dropped criminal charges against him and his fighters after he called off an uprising over the weekend.

Russian state media reported that the Wagner group will hand over military equipment to the Army, though there were few details. It’s not clear how many Wagner fighters — Prigozhin recently said there were 25,000 — would agree to be placed under the Russian Army’s command.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin sought to demonstrate control in a series of public appearances. During a rare outdoor speech on the Kremlin grounds, he thanked Russia’s military for having “essentially stopped a civil war.” He also vaguely warned of consequences for officials who helped Prigozhin enrich himself at Russia’s expense.

The deal: Russia had said that it would grant amnesty to Prigozhin and his fighters. Under a deal brokered by President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus, Prigozhin will live in exile there. Lukashenko said that he offered Wagner group members an “abandoned” military base in the country.

The big picture: Our reporters reconstruct Prigozhin’s personal story as a mercurial freelance warlord who made a last-ditch attempt to win by force, one of the most extraordinary Russian power struggles in recent memory.

Analysis: As rattled as they may have been by an armed insurrection in a nuclear-weapons state, Russia’s friends and business partners are unlikely to abandon Putin, according to diplomats and analysts.

On the front lines: Russian missiles killed at least four people in a crowded restaurant in Kramatorsk. Video footage shows the destruction.

Will Americans let Biden ease U.S.-China tensions?

Polls show that Americans are starting to think about China as they once did about the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Between about 2000 and 2016, comparable shares of Americans viewed China favorably and unfavorably. That changed starting in 2018, with Donald Trump’s anti-China language and trade war. Today, most Americans view China as either unfriendly or an enemy.

Souring opinion could make it harder to mend ties and avoid conflict. The message Americans are getting from their leaders about China is profoundly negative. Public animosity, in turn, can incentivize leaders to speak and act aggressively, a hawkishness that journalists then communicate back to the public.

Quotable: “The conception at the macro level is that we are really in a serious competition,” a professor who studies international relations and public opinion said. “Now the public has followed. And it’s not like you can turn this ship around overnight.”

A glimpse of U.S. life without abortion access

The U.S. territory of Guam in the western Pacific Ocean is thousands of miles from the nearest state, and has no resident doctors who perform abortions. Now, a U.S. court ruling could make in-person doctor visits a requirement to obtain abortion pills, effectively cutting off the only legal way for most residents to end pregnancies.

The island could soon become an extreme example of what life under a near-total abortion ban would look like. More than a dozen states have already put such bans in place since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade a year ago.

But that ruling led to a seismic shift in public opinion: For the first time, polls show that most Americans say abortion is “morally acceptable,” believe the laws are too strict and are more likely to identify, in the language of polls, as “pro-choice.”


U.S. News

The South is in the middle of a wave of record heat, which is expected to continue through the July 4 holiday.

The Supreme Court rejected a legal theory that would have radically reshaped U.S. elections.

An audio recording from 2021 appears to undercut Donald Trump’s claim that he did not show classified documents at a meeting.

In a victory for Tesla, General Motors and Ford said they would use its chargers for their electric vehicles.

Around the World

The planet is rapidly losing tropical forests, despite an international pledge to end deforestation, according to an annual survey.

A tourist who defaced a wall of the Colosseum in Rome could face up to five years in prison if he is apprehended.

A study from Denmark found that transgender people are at a significantly higher risk of suicide compared with the rest of the population.

President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone won re-election, the election commission said. His main rival rejected the result.


Gustav Klimt’s “Lady With a Fan” was sold at auction for $108.4 million, a record for the artist.

The Hermitage Amsterdam cut ties with its Russian mother ship.

The Jewish folk song “Hava Nagila” is suddenly a hit at trendy bars and clubs and sporting events.

A Morning Read

Where generations have seen a sublime countryside in Ireland, ecologists see a man-made desert, cleared of most native species by close-grazing sheep that often pull grasses out by the roots. Now, a “rewilding” movement is trying to restore that biodiversity.


Tours for plus-size travelers

A small but growing number of companies in the U.S. are dedicated to size-inclusive travel, often targeting their services exclusively to women. The tours cost about the same as other group trips. Participants know that their companions understand their joys and their challenges, and they also know that events and meals have been planned with accessibility in mind.

“I gained weight during the pandemic, and I had been nervous about going abroad,” one traveler said. Instead of being anxious that people would be irritated by “that one fat lady on the trip,” she knew that she’d be with people who accepted her.


What to Cook

This carne asada is herby, bright and aromatic.

What to Read

Revisit “The Lottery,” a chilling short story that has caused a stir since it was published 75 years ago.


Why do you sometimes wake up just before your alarm?

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Totally exhausted (five letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Amelia

P.S. As a reminder, we’d love to hear about the flavors of your hometown. Write to us here.

“The Daily” is about Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s challenges in the U.S. House of Representatives.

You can reach us at [email protected].

Amelia Nierenberg writes the Asia Pacific Morning Briefing for The Times. @AJNierenberg

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