We’re covering the official broadening of Russia’s territorial ambitions and a new leader in Sri Lanka.
Russia is expanding its territorial aims
Russia’s top diplomat said Wednesday that his country’s territorial ambitions in Ukraine might broaden as European leaders warned their citizens to prepare for sacrifices in the face of a conflict that shows no sign of ending anytime soon.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the Russian state news agency that Moscow was now casting its gaze on a swath of Ukraine’s south, specifically naming the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions as well as “a number of other territories.”
Facing an escalating conflict, the European Commission proposed rationing natural gas to save the region from a major energy crisis as Russia slashes gas exports. The proposal calls for a 15 percent reduction in gas usage by next spring. If ratified by member nations, it would put Europe’s economy on a war footing.
News from the war in Ukraine:
Sri Lanka names its next leader
Lawmakers in Sri Lanka elected Ranil Wickremesinghe as the country’s president, replacing Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was pushed out of office last week by protesters who blamed him for the country’s economic collapse.
The ascension of Wickremesinghe — handpicked by Rajapaksa, who fled the country in disgrace — represented a triumph of establishment politics over a social movement calling for wholesale change. He was able to rally support within the ruling party even though ordinary Sri Lankans made their dislike of him clear.
Supporters say that with four decades in the Parliament and half a dozen stints as prime minister, Wickremesinghe is best suited to stabilize the crumbling economy. His most immediate challenge, along with trying to ensure a steady supply of food and fuel for a suffering population, is to convince the protesters, who see him as a protector of the Rajapaksas, to give him a chance.
Policies: Wickremesinghe said his government would abandon some of the Rajapaksas’ economic policies, which revolved around low taxes, cheap credit and imported goods to support a single industry — tourism. Instead, he plans to promote exports, such as garments, agriculture and technology services, to bolster the country’s foreign reserves.
Britain’s prime minister choices
The Conservative Party in Britain whittled the race to become the country’s next prime minister down to two candidates.
Rishi Sunak, a former chancellor of the Exchequer — Britain’s equivalent of a finance minister — and Liz Truss, the current foreign secretary, emerged as the top two choices from a field of 11 after five rounds of voting by the party’s lawmakers. The two will campaign to secure the support of the Conservative rank and file in the lead-up to a vote, with the results announced in early September.
Sunak, a 42-year-old of South Asian ancestry, would be the first person of color to occupy 10 Downing Street. Truss, 46, began her political career as a Liberal Democrat and voted to remain in the E.U. in the 2016 referendum but has since became a zealous Brexit convert — and will be viewed as the candidate of hard-line Brexiteers.
Backdrop: The next prime minister will face a Conservative electorate that has grown frustrated with the seemingly endless parade of scandals under Boris Johnson, who announced this month that he planned to step down. Sunak’s resignation set in motion the events that brought down Johnson, but neither he nor Truss represents much of a break with the departing prime minister in terms of policy.
Context: Sunak might suffer from the role he played in helping to oust Johnson. Truss sat alongside Johnson in the House of Commons on Wednesday and has stayed in his cabinet even as several others quit.
Opponents of Myanmar’s military junta have flocked to a new online game that lets players shoot virtual troops while raising money for the real-life resistance. “One way or another, playing the game and clicking until I die will help the revolution,” U Sein Lin, a 72-year-old retired history teacher, said.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Desus and Mero split
The Showtime talk show “Desus & Mero” is coming to an end, capping a nine-year partnership that propelled its Bronx-bred hosts to stardom. Over web series, podcasts and TV shows, Desus Nice (Daniel Baker) and the Kid Mero (Joel Martinez) scrapped crafted monologues for a looser style. Along the way, they interviewed Barack Obama, Derek Jeter, Denzel Washington and Yo-Yo Ma.
The duo did it all with a Black perspective not often seen in late-night comedy. “I have fun on Jimmy Kimmel and James Corden,” the actress Lena Waithe said, but with Desus and Mero, “it felt like going to your favorite cousin’s crib and talking about the events of the day and what’s going on.”