Friday Briefing: The E.U.’s Ukraine Aid Deal


The E.U. reached a multiyear funding deal for Ukraine worth about $54 billion yesterday, providing a critical lifeline for the country. President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked his neighbors and quickly nodded to a $60 billion aid package languishing in the U.S. Congress.

Europe’s commitment, Zelensky said, would “send a signal across the Atlantic.”

With U.S. funding for Ukraine held up in Congress, the breakthrough deal is especially significant. For Ukraine, it means stability and assurance as it continues to fight a grinding war. And for the E.U., it demonstrated leaders’ resolve to stand united against Russia.

Details: The E.U.’s breakthrough came after Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister and a close ally of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, dropped his opposition. Orban has long made himself an antagonist of the E.U.

What’s next: The European Parliament plans to vote on the fund, possibly this month. Ukraine urgently needs the money, which is set to last through 2027, to keep basic services running.

Related: Russia plans to seize the property of antiwar citizens who live abroad. It is urging other countries to crack down on them as well.

President Biden ordered broad travel and financial sanctions on Israeli settlers accused of attacking Palestinians in the West Bank. His executive order appeared to be aimed, in part, at appeasing Arab American voters who are furious with his backing of Israel in the war in Gaza.

The move cuts settlers off from the U.S. financial system as well as from any assets they have in the U.S., and prevents them from traveling to America. It goes further than a directive issued in December by the State Department, which imposed visa bans on dozens of settlers who have committed acts of violence in the West Bank.

Context: The violent actions by Israeli settlers are meant to drive Palestinians from their homes, and reached a record level before the Oct. 7 attacks. They have accelerated since then.

A Times visual analysis: Israeli ground forces have carried out a wave of controlled demolitions that have razed entire neighborhoods in Gaza.

Many TikTok videos using songs by stars like Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and Drake Grande have gone silent. That’s because of a public dispute between the platform and Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company.

Earlier in the week, Universal Music published a letter to TikTok, saying the company hadn’t adequately addressed concerns over A.I.-generated music on the platform or agreed to a satisfactory royalty rate. The record company, whose deal with TikTok expired on Wednesday, said it would revoke its licenses if an agreement wasn’t reached. The deadline came and went. TikTok confirmed yesterday that it had begun removing songs.

The endless scroll: After only a few years, scrolling TikTok’s seemingly infinite bounty of charms has come to more closely resemble rummaging in a junk drawer.

Bullfighting is in limbo in La Plaza México, the world’s largest arena dedicated to the sport, in Mexico City. A legal ruling recently brought the fights back after a nearly two-year ban, only for a different judge to crack down on Wednesday in response to an animal rights petition.

Lives lived: Jack Jennings was a British P.O.W. during World War II who worked as a slave laborer on the Burma Railway, which inspired “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” He died at 104.

The 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday are poised to be a celebration of a dominant year for women in pop music. SZA, Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish are facing off in the major categories. Here’s what we’ve got our eye on:

A swift sweep: If Swift’s “Midnights” wins, she’ll become the first four-time champ in the album of the year category. But while Grammy voters love a success story, they could rebel at any perceived idea that they have to anoint a star — or that sales and fame alone should determine excellence.

Making history: SZA’s “SOS” is widely seen by critics as a strong contender for album of the year. She could be the first Black woman to take that award in 25 years, since Lauryn Hill for “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

Spoiler alert: Upsets are as much a part of the night as awkward stage pairings and cutoff speeches. The top candidates for an upset this year are the indie group boygenius and Jon Batiste, the only male performer on the ballot in the top categories.


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