Your Monday Briefing

Election in Turkey may head to Round 2

Turkey’s presidential election appears to be destined for a runoff after the incumbent, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, failed to win a majority of the vote, in the toughest political challenge of his career.

With the unofficial count nearly completed, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported that Erdogan had received 49.4 percent of the vote to the opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s 44.8 percent. The outcome sets the stage for a two-week battle to secure victory in a May 28 runoff that may reshape Turkey’s political landscape.

Both sides claimed to be ahead, and each accused the other of announcing misleading information. Opposition politicians disputed the preliminary totals reported by Anadolu, saying that their own figures collected directly from polling stations showed Kilicdaroglu in the lead.

Consequences: At stake is the course of a NATO member that has managed to unsettle many of its Western allies by maintaining warm ties with the Kremlin. One of the world’s 20 largest economies, Turkey has an array of political and economic ties that span the globe, and its domestic and foreign policies could shift profoundly depending on who wins.

Devastation reigns in Bakhmut

Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers have been ordered on the offensive around Bakhmut, the blighted Ukrainian city that has become a focal point of the war, in recent days. The fighting has often been hard, they said, with many Russians willing to die rather than to surrender even when surrounded. Russia still controls about 90 percent of the city.

For nearly a year, Ukraine has been simply trying to hold on in Bakhmut, as Russian forces pressed in on the city from all sides. Last week, for the first time, Ukrainian forces launched a series of counterattacks and in a matter of days won back territory north and south of the city that it had taken Russian forces months to capture. Ukrainian soldiers hope they have now turned the tide in the battle and can continue moving forward.

The city has taken on an outsize importance in the war as a symbol of Ukrainian defiance and of Russian leaders’ determination to blast their way to a small victory in a little-known corner of eastern Ukraine.

Official statement: “Our troops are gradually advancing in two directions in the suburbs of Bakhmut,” Hanna Maliar, a Ukrainian deputy minister of defense, said on Saturday. She said that active hostilities had made it impossible to give precise details about the state of the fighting but claimed that the Ukrainians “are destroying the enemy and have already taken many prisoners.”

In other news from the war:

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine met with the leaders of Germany and France to shore up military and humanitarian support.

Ukraine is struggling to keep Western arms shipments off the black market.

Some U.S. and European officials say the next phase of the war could create momentum for diplomacy with Russia.

A Chinese envoy will visit Ukraine and Russia this week in an attempt to negotiate an end to the war.

Thai voters call for change

Voters in Thailand overwhelmingly sought to end nearly a decade of military rule yesterday, casting ballots in favor of two opposition parties that have pledged to curtail the power of the country’s military and the monarchy.

With 97 percent of the votes counted early this morning, the progressive Move Forward Party had won 151 seats to the populist Pheu Thai Party’s 141 in the 500-seat House of Representatives. Under the rules of the current Thai system, written by the military after its 2014 coup, the junta must play kingmaker. A decision about who will lead could take weeks or even months.

Analysis: “We can frame this election as a referendum on traditional power centers in Thai politics,” Napon Jatusripitak, a visiting fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, said. “People want change, and not just a change of government. They want structural reform.”


Around the World

A cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip was largely upheld yesterday, aside from a brief exchange.

At least six people have died after Cyclone Mocha made landfall near Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party lost elections in Karnataka, the only state government it held in India’s south.

Other Big Stories

More than 12 million people remained under a heat advisory yesterday in the Pacific Northwest, as temperatures toppled longstanding records.

Sweden won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. European solidarity with Ukraine was clear throughout the event.

Meet “Chonkosaurus,” a gargantuan snapping turtle living in the Chicago River.

From Opinion

The story of Asian American girls called Connie is the story of a generation, Connie Wang writes.

Nicholas Kristof traveled to the Rio Verde Foothills of Arizona to learn what it’s like when water can no longer be taken for granted.

Saying goodbye to hard pants is one way that the pandemic has altered the fabric of our lives, David Mack says.

A Morning Read

In a remote wilderness in southeastern Kenya, a pastor, Paul Mackenzie, told hundreds of believers in a Christian doomsday cult to starve themselves to death to meet Jesus.

Why did so many of them do it — and why, in a country that counts itself among Africa’s most modern and stable nations, did law enforcement miss the macabre goings-on for so long?


Solskjaer on offering Haaland to Manchester United for $5 million: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the former United manager, talked about his frustration that the club ignored his offer to sign Erling Haaland in 2018.

If Chelsea buys into Pochettino, the sky’s the limit: Mauricio Pochettino’s stints at Tottenham and P.S.G. reveal a lot about his methods, and what he might be capable of.

Chelsea wins the Women’s F.A. Cup in front of a record crowd: Chelsea beat Manchester United, 1-0, to win the Women’s F.A. Cup final in front of a record crowd of 77,390 spectators.


Van Gogh’s cypress trees

In an 1889 letter to his brother, the artist Vincent van Gogh described a fascination with the tall, evergreen Mediterranean cypress trees of southern France. “The cypresses still preoccupy me,” he wrote. “I’d like to do something with them like the canvases of the sunflowers because it astonishes me that no one has done them as I see them.”

Van Gogh’s treatment of the trees is celebrated in a new show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Opening next week, the exhibition comprises 24 paintings, along with 15 drawings and four illustrated letters in which the cypress makes an appearance — not always as the main subject.

The show follows “Van Gogh and the Olive Groves,” which appeared last year at the Dallas Museum of Art and elsewhere, in a similarly hyperfocused look at the artist. Such niche exhibitions may reflect postpandemic cutbacks, but, as an alternative to the blockbuster parade of the past, they allow the viewer the pleasure of taking in art one work at a time.


What to Cook

This Brazilian stroganoff is made with chicken.

What to Watch

In “The Starling Girl,” a teenager in a fundamentalist Christian community begins an affair with her youth pastor.

News Quiz

How well did you follow the week’s headlines?

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Number of letters in a Wordle guess (four 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. Have a great week. — Natasha

P.S. The Times won nine awards from the New York Press Club, highlighting coverage from across the newsroom.

In First Person,” Whitney Bjerken takes stock of her life as a kidfluencer. Friday’s episode of “The Daily” is on the U.S. debt limit.

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

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