Friday Briefing – The New York Times


The E.U. reached a landmark $54 billion funding deal yesterday to help Ukraine alleviate a potentially severe financial crisis. The country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, quickly thanked his European neighbors but also alluded to uncertainty over a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine currently languishing in the U.S. Congress.

The breakthrough was significant for both Ukraine and the E.U., enabling Ukraine’s economy to stay afloat for the next four years and demonstrating European resolve to stand united against Russia.

To reach a deal, our correspondents wrote that European leaders played a game of good cop-bad cop to cajole and pressure Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, who had resisted a deal. After weeks of standing in the way as the only holdout among 27 leaders, he ultimately folded under the pressure campaign.

Orban’s goal: His real aim is to lead a populist and nativist rebellion against Europe’s liberal elite, though that campaign is showing signs of faltering.

What’s next: The European Parliament needs to approve the fund by simple majority, a bar that should be easily cleared, and the vote could take place this month.

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

President Biden ordered broad financial and travel sanctions on Israeli settlers accused of violent attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank. The move is a forceful gesture aimed, in part, at Arab American voters in the U.S. who have expressed fury about the president’s backing of Israel’s war in Gaza.

The move cuts settlers off from the U.S. financial system and prevents them from traveling to America, among other restrictions. The sanctions, which will initially be imposed on four Israelis, go further than a directive issued in December by the State Department, which imposed visa bans on dozens of Israeli settlers who have committed acts of violence in the West Bank.

Context: Violent actions by Israeli settlers meant to drive Palestinians from their homes, already at a record level before the Oct. 7 attacks, have accelerated since then.

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

In a reprieve after more than a week of protests, France’s main farmers’ unions called yesterday for an end to roadblocks across the country, expressing cautious satisfaction with a flurry of new government announcements intended to appease them.

The unions said that they would monitor closely the government’s promises of new financial aid and a loosening of regulations ahead of a major farming trade fair scheduled for this month in Paris. But whether the approximately 10,000 farmers at the 100 or so barricades would heed the union leaders’ call and go home was not immediately clear.

Related: At a gathering of E.U. leaders in Belgium, thousands of farmers protested the bloc’s farming policies and environmental rules. Farmers’ protests have also broken out in recent weeks in Portugal, Germany and Greece.

Egyptian authorities released a video last week that described plans to resurface the Pyramid of Menkaure, the smallest of Giza’s three main pyramids, with the granite blocks that once covered part of its exterior. The initial reaction was swift — and harsh.

The 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday are poised to be a celebration of a dominant year for women in pop music, with female stars like SZA, Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish facing off in the major categories. Here’s what we’re watching.

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.

Will SZA make history? Her album “SOS” is widely seen by critics as a strong contender for album of the year. If she wins, she’ll be the first Black woman to take that award in 25 years, since Lauryn Hill for “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

Possible spoilers: Upsets are as much a part of the night as awkward stage pairings and speeches that are cut off. 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.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Have a great weekend. Daniel Slotnik will be here next week. — Jonathan

P.S. Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce have been at the center of far-right fury and conspiracy theories. Our reporter dived deep into the fray — with some help from his stepdaughter.

Amelia Nierenberg contributed to this newsletter. You can reach Jonathan and the team at

Correction: Wednesday’s newsletter misstated the location of a new power-sharing deal. It was in Northern Ireland, not Ireland.


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