Your Friday Briefing: Russia’s Crumbling Gas Exports

Russia has ceded its hard-fought position as Europe’s largest gas supplier to Norway.Credit…Alexander Manzyuk/Reuters

Russia’s shrinking gas exports

Russian news reports estimate that Russia’s natural gas exports by pipeline could fall as much as 50 percent in volume this year from last year. The drop points to the blow to Russia’s vital gas exports industry since the country invaded Ukraine.

Once Europe’s main supplier of natural gas, Russia has been subjected to heavy sanctions from the West since the invasion in February 2022. Europe’s main strategy for reducing dependence on Russian energy — increasing imports of liquefied natural gas from countries like the U.S., coupled with slashing demand — has worked surprisingly well.

While Russia has been able to hold its own in the oil market despite embargoes, it is much more difficult to find new customers for gas because it is still mostly transported through fixed pipelines. Russia is likely to see some gain in gas sales to China and Turkey, but evidence is piling up that its natural gas export industry may be steadily disintegrating.

Other news about the war:

  • Pope Francis discussed peace efforts with Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, during a private audience at the Vatican.

  • Casualties are mounting on the front lines of the war as Ukrainian forces await heavy artillery from the West ahead of an expected counteroffensive.

  • The editors and publishers of three major American newspapers issued a joint call for Russia to immediately release Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter.

  • Brittney Griner, the American basketball star who was detained in Russia for nearly 10 months last year, spoke with reporters for the first time since her release.

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol paid tribute to U.S. efforts in the Korean War in a speech to Congress.Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Yoon addresses the U.S. Congress

On the fourth day of his state visit to the U.S., President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea delivered an address to Congress that touched on the need to confront the nuclear threat from North Korea.

“There is one regime determined to pursue a wrong path: That is North Korea,” he said. “North Korea’s nuclear program and missile provocations pose a serious threat to the peace on the Korean peninsula and beyond.”

Yoon also called for increased cooperation between Japan, the U.S. and South Korea to counter North Korea’s nuclear program and promised to actively support reconstruction efforts in Ukraine in the wide-ranging speech, Reuters reported.

The address came a day after President Biden agreed to bolster the American nuclear umbrella guarding South Korea and vowed that any nuclear attack by North Korea would “result in the end” of the government in Pyongyang.

“American Pie”: One of the lighter moments of Yoon’s visit was during the state dinner at the White House. With some coaxing from Biden, Yoon sang a rendition of “American Pie,” one of his favorite tunes. In case you missed it, here’s a video.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia, left, and his counterpart in New Zealand, Chris Hipkins.Credit…Pat Hoelscher/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A reset for Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand often describe each other as close partners, but in recent decades, Australia’s treatment of migrants from New Zealand caused a rift. Now, the new center-left government in Australia, led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, has taken steps to address the dispute.

After years of prodding, Australia announced a streamlined process for New Zealanders living in Australia to gain citizenship after four years. This was a reversal of a 2001 policy that gave New Zealanders in Australia unrestricted work rights, but prevented them from receiving the same protections as permanent residents and citizens.

In New Zealand, which is reckoning with a skills shortage and a slowing economy, news of Australia’s shift on immigration raised concerns about more Kiwis being drawn to Australia and its larger economy. An opposition leader, David Seymour, commented that the Australian government had “just done a raid on New Zealand talent.”


Asia Pacific

  • The U.S. consulting firm Bain & Company said its employees in Shanghai were recently questioned by Chinese authorities, in the latest sign of strained economic ties between the U.S. and China.

  • An ex-Harvard professor was sentenced in Boston after being convicted of not disclosing financial ties to China.

Around the World

Footage released by a Sudanese paramilitary group purports to show its fighters in Khartoum.Credit…via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • Parts of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, have been taken over by a paramilitary force after war broke out almost two weeks ago.

  • Russian pranksters posing as Ukraine’s president seem to have tricked the chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, who was caught on video answering questions about the economy.

  • A new study found that climate change has made droughts in East Africa 100 times as likely as they were in the preindustrial era.

U.S. News

  • Ron DeSantis, a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, made a brief visit to Israel to promote his diplomatic credentials.

  • The U.S. economy grew at a rate of 1.1 percent in the first quarter as consumer spending kept a recession at bay.

  • The writer E. Jean Carroll was cross-examined in a New York court after testifying that Donald J. Trump raped her in the mid 1990s.

A Morning Read

Flooded fields, which require deep digging to replant, are one challenge farmers face in Malawi.Credit…Khadija Farah for The New York Times

Farmers in Malawi, an agrarian nation on the front lines of climate change, have no choice but to be creative. As droughts scorch their soil and storms strike with a vengeance, subsistence farmers are turning to a scrappy, throw-everything-at-the-wall array of innovations to make ends meet.

Lives lived: Jerry Springer, the brash U.S. talk show host who mediated tumultuous relationships and family feuds, died at his home in Chicago. He was 79.


How does an A.I. learn to write?

If you’ve used A.I. chatbots like ChatGPT, you’re probably familiar with the crisp, clear paragraphs the best of these bots can easily spit out. And if you’ve kept up with our extensive A.I. coverage, you might know that large language models work by training on mountains of internet text, repeatedly guessing the next word (or word fragment) and then grading themselves against the real thing. But what does that process actually look like?

To demonstrate the notoriously complex inner workings of A.I., we trained six tiny language models, affectionately called BabyGPT, on six iconic texts, including Shakespeare and “Star Trek.”

Pick a model (I went with Jane Austen), and watch it start to learn language from scratch in five steps.


What to Cook

Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times

This marble cake is buttery and not too sweet.

What to Listen To

These podcasts about fashion examine the place of clothing in pop culture.

What to Watch

“Love & Death,” based on a true story, examines how a mother turned into a killer.

Where to Go

How to spend 36 hours in Philadelphia.

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Home for a hog (three letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Mariah

P.S. Two Times photographers were honored by the World Press Photo awards for their coverage in Southeast Asia.

“The Daily” is about India’s rise.

We welcome your feedback. Send us your suggestions to [email protected].

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