Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

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Republicans in Congress sharply questioned senior Pentagon officials about the tens of billions of dollars in aid the U.S. has sent to Ukraine, casting fresh doubt on whether they would embrace future spending as Democrats pleaded for a cleareyed assessment of how much more money would be needed.

Concerns about the high cost of sending weapons to Kyiv have intensified on Capitol Hill, threatening what has been a strong bipartisan consensus in favor of the aid. It could in turn make it more difficult for the Biden administration to win congressional approval of funds to replenish its military assistance accounts.

The criticisms came as Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, traveled to Central Asia to press his case that the region should hold the line against Russian efforts to seek economic aid as Moscow grapples with Western sanctions. He was warmly met in Kazakhstan, where the president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, thanked the U.S. for its support.

Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan maintain close diplomatic, security and economic ties to Russia and China. The U.S. hopes to encourage the countries to resist pressure from Russia to provide it with support as it struggles on the battlefield.

Bola Tinubu, the governing party candidate who campaigned on the slogan “It’s my turn,” was named by election officials as the winner of the presidential contest in Nigeria early this morning. The vote was the country’s most wide-open and closely watched in years, after eight years under Muhammadu Buhari, a former military dictator.

The election was marred by delays and violence at polling stations. Yesterday, the political parties representing Tinubu’s two major rivals said the vote had been rigged and called for it to be redone. “We demand that this sham of an election be immediately canceled,” said Julius Abure, chairman of the opposition Labour Party. “We have totally lost faith in the whole process.”

Tinubu faced a tough contest against two chief opponents: Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president and multimillionaire businessman who, at 76, has run for the presidency five times before; and Peter Obi, a former state governor who galvanized young Nigerians and surprised the country by running with the little-known Labour Party.

By the numbers: In the final tally, Tinubu won 8.7 million votes, Abubakar 6.9 million and Obi 6.1 million. Under Nigerian law, to win, a candidate must win the most votes, as well as at least 25 percent of the vote in two-thirds of the nation’s 36 states.

From Opinion: If Nigeria is to have a functional democracy, it needs electoral transparency, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says.

Two months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s new tenure as prime minister of Israel, divisions have deepened, West Bank violence has escalated and splits have emerged in his coalition with far-right settler activists and ultraconservative religious leaders — despite his earlier promises of stability, Patrick Kingsley, our Jerusalem bureau chief, writes in an analysis.

On Monday, after Israeli settlers rampaged through several Palestinian villages in the West Bank to avenge the killing of two Jews, political divisions were on clear display. When Netanyahu spoke out against the attacks, a far-right ally resigned as a deputy minister, complaining that the prime minister had reneged on their coalition agreement.

Tensions in the coalition government come against a broader backdrop of social unrest in Israel. A government move to overhaul the judiciary has prompted one of the largest waves of protests in the country’s history, the beginnings of capital flight, threats by army reservists to refuse military service, and warnings from leading politicians of political violence and even civil war.

Quotable: “Things around him are imploding,” said Anshel Pfeffer, a biographer of the Israeli prime minister. “Netanyahu has totally lost his best asset — being the calm, stable, firm hand on the steering wheel.”

Eugene Levy never wanted to see the world. The comic actor balked when he was offered a travel show. He had watched animals on wildlife programs and didn’t need to travel halfway around the world to see them again, he said. He doesn’t love water. He doesn’t like the hot; he doesn’t like the cold. And he is vehemently opposed to both sushi and humidity.

But hosting “The Reluctant Traveler” has showed him the (mild) joys of leaving his comfort zone. “Actually,” he said, “it was kind of an enjoyable, uh, show to do.”

The strange nature of redemption in soccer: We explain Marcus Rashford’s journey to becoming one of the world’s best strikers at Manchester United.

Watching Manchester United win its first trophy in six years from afar: We joined Manchester United supporters in Qatar as the team won the Carabao Cup, and we asked how they feel about a potential new owner from Qatar.

From The Times: After accusations of misconduct and mismanagement, the president of France’s soccer federation stepped down yesterday.

A new Northern Ireland trade agreement has nothing to do with King Charles III. But the mix-up is understandable: It is called the Windsor Framework, for where it was signed, which happens to be his family name and the place where he has a castle. At that same castle, Charles welcomed one of the negotiators, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, for tea.

That courtesy call, and the resulting photo of a smiling king appearing to celebrate his guest, prompted anger from critics, who said the government had improperly recruited King Charles to be an ally in one of the most divisive issues in British politics. Buckingham Palace and Downing Street appeared at odds over who had initiated the meeting.

“Calling it the Windsor Agreement, the government tried to imply that he supports it,” said Vernon Bogdanor, an authority on the constitutional monarchy at Kings College London. “I think the king has been put in a very embarrassing position.”

For more: In addition to removing an obstacle to London-Brussels relations, the Northern Ireland trade deal could remove Brexit from the center of British politics after seven divisive years.


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