World Events

Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times

President Trump said that he and his wife, Melania, would begin a “quarantine process” after one of his most senior advisers, Hope Hicks, tested positive for the coronavirus. Ms. Hicks traveled with Mr. Trump aboard Air Force One this week.

Mr. Trump tweeted late Thursday that he and the first lady, who were both tested for the virus, would await their results.

Ms. Hicks was one of the few White House senior aides seen sporadically wearing masks in meetings, according to her colleagues. But she also has been photographed around Mr. Trump without one.

In his first long interview since his discharge from a Berlin hospital, Aleksei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who was poisoned in August, said that the attack had been ordered at the highest level of Russia’s security or intelligence services because a military-grade nerve agent was used. Those services answer to President Vladimir Putin.

“Putin is behind the crime,” Mr. Navalny told the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel in the interview published on Thursday. “I have no other versions of the crime. I am not saying this to flatter myself, but on the basis of facts.”

Waiting for him to die: Mr. Navalny and his team say they believe that he was poisoned in his hotel room in the city of Tomsk, in Siberia. He was hospitalized for two days in Omsk before being flown to Germany for treatment. The Russians had initially been determined not to let him leave the country, he said, adding, “They were waiting for me to die.”

Related: “The Salisbury Poisonings,” a four-part drama on the 2018 poisoning of the former Soviet spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England, focuses on the ordinary Britons whose lives were upended. Even for our reporter who followed the saga closely, the series contains revelations.

European Union leaders broke a longstanding impasse to impose sanctions on Belarus. The delay had been a huge embarrassment for the bloc.

The breakthrough came after Cyprus agreed to go along with sanctions to punish Belarus for its crackdown on protesters after flawed elections on Aug. 9. Cyprus had resisted because it wanted penalties imposed on Turkey for its energy explorations in Cypriot and Greek waters.

On Friday morning, after eight hours of talks, the leaders agreed on language that urges Turkey to enter serious negotiations with Cyprus and Greece on disputed waters and energy rights, and threatens sanctions against Turkey.

Crossing the militarized border that split Germany into East and West once meant risking death. Now? It is, literally, a walk in the park. After a long-running battle among landowners, the authorities and environmentalists, the federal government announced last month that the entire former border zone would be designated a nature reserve.

Our reporter takes us to a patch of this green oasis, 30 years after reunification.

“It is hard to believe that this peaceful place was once the frontline between NATO and the Warsaw Pact,” said an ecologist who campaigned for the park. Above, an old border watchtower in the village of Mödlareuth.

New Belgian government: After two years of paralysis, a fragile coalition government finally took power on Thursday. The partnership keeps a growing far-right movement at bay for now and should allow Belgium finally to pass a budget and consider a Covid-19 recovery package.

Trump and refugees: The Trump administration said it would cut its already rock-bottom refugee admissions still deeper, to no more than 15,000 for the coming year. Ahead of the Nov. 3 election, President Trump has returned to anti-immigrant themes in his campaign.

London Underground: The city’s transportation system will need another 5.7 billion pounds, or $7.3 billion, to get through the next 18 months, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said on Thursday. The system has been decimated by the pandemic, travel restrictions and orders to work from home.

Snapshot: Above, Michelangelo’s David and members of an Italian team that plans to make a 3-D print of the 17-foot statue. The reproduction will be the centerpiece of the Italy Pavilion at the next world fair, Expo 2020 Dubai, which was postponed until next October because of the pandemic.

Ella Fitzgerald: “Mack the Knife: Ella in Berlin,” from 1960, is widely considered one of the singer’s greatest live albums. Now there’s more to enjoy. Today, the Verve Label Group will release “Ella: The Lost Berlin Tapes,” documenting a concert that she gave there two years after her famed first appearance.

What we’re reading: This Atlantic article about the career costs of our new offices. “This thoughtful piece got right to the heart of why endless working-from-home can leave one feeling so adrift,” writes Natasha Frost, on the Briefings team.

Cook: Tangy, salty-sweet pasta brings together well-seasoned eggplant and creamy ricotta for a hearty vegetarian meal.

Dine: If you’re heading out to a restaurant, you might want to review this list of warning signs and situations to avoid.

Read: We’ve compiled a list of 17 new books to watch for in October. New biographies shed light on Malcolm X, Sylvia Plath and the Beatles, and there’s new fiction from Tana French, Martin Amis, Sayaka Murata and others.

Let us help you find fun ways to stay safe with our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do.

Our Moscow correspondent Andrew Kramer has covered the simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan for years. We drew on his current and past reporting, and other Times articles, to help explain the dispute.

Fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian separatist enclave in a remote mountain area of Azerbaijan, is threatening to pull in two major powers in the region, Russia and Turkey.

Ethnic tensions have long divided predominantly Christian Armenia and mostly Muslim Azerbaijan, which are both former Soviet republics. In 1921, Stalin attached the Armenian-dominated Karabakh to its hostile Azeri neighbor, using the ethnic conflict to consolidate overall control from Moscow, now needed to keep the peace.

In 1988, the enclave’s governing body petitioned President Mikhail Gorbachev to unite it with Armenia. Instead, he sent Soviet troops to try to force out its ethnic Armenian population, and Azeri forces encircled the enclave with a punishing military siege.

Starting in 1992, ethnic Armenian troops pressed the offensive, creating a land corridor to Armenia and pushing outward to occupy nearly one-fifth of Azerbaijan. Open war had broken out as the Soviet Union fell, and the clashes claimed 20,000 lives. A cease-fire was declared in 1994, but there was no final settlement, and periodic border skirmishes have broken out ever since.

The fighting that began last weekend stands out for two reasons. First, it is on a much larger scale than previous clashes. Dozens of people have been killed as the two sides launched missile strikes. Second, Turkey is openly backing Azerbaijan, a fellow Muslim and Turkic-speaking country.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declared all-out support for the Azerbaijanis and castigated Armenia for ignoring efforts to negotiate a resolution. He also demanded that Armenia withdraw from lands it occupied 30 years ago. Armenia has a mutual defense treaty with Russia, but so far has not asked that it be activated.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Carole

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. Andrea Kannapell wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is a guide to mail-in voting in the U.S. presidential election.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Sommelier’s expertise (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Several Times journalists were honored by the Religion News Association with awards recognizing excellence in religion reporting.


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