Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

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Although Germany has long been Europe’s de facto leader, it has been slow to provide serious military equipment to Ukraine. It has also subsidized its own citizens’ energy bills while working to water down a price cap on gas that could alleviate pain in poorer E.U. countries. And now its allies are worried.

“Can we trust Germany?” Latvia’s outspoken defense minister, Artis Pabriks, asked last week, referring to the risks associated with the war in Ukraine. Similar concerns have been raised by countries including Poland and France, whose leader, Emmanuel Macron, last week accused Germany of isolating itself.

Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, said such criticism was unfounded, noting that Germany had been the third-largest contributor of equipment to Ukraine, after the U.S. and Britain. But it has drawn a line at providing advanced heavy weapons.

Analysis: Scholz could have created a European coalition to provide weapons “to stand up to Russia and bring Europe and the West together,” said Norbert Röttgen, an opposition politician. “Instead, we’ve created the deepest divides and we’ve been late on delivery, so now there are questions about Germany’s reliability.”

In other news from the war:

Rishi Sunak yesterday became Britain’s third prime minister in seven weeks. But as he assembles a cabinet and begins to confront a grave economic crisis, he faces formidable political challenges, for which analysts say his seven-year career in national politics has not fully prepared him.

Sunak was elected by Conservative members of Parliament, not the party’s rank and file, let alone the broader British electorate. And with his government forced into spending cuts and tax increases, he will have few resources with which to win over the public or his fractured party’s lawmakers.

But in a well-received first address to the nation, Sunak showed a degree of political awareness, conceding the mistakes of his predecessor, Liz Truss, and promising improvement. He warned of difficult decisions to come. “I will place economic stability and confidence at the heart of this government’s agenda,” he said.

Cabinet: Sunak retained Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor whom Truss installed after ousting Kwasi Kwarteng, and kept on Ben Wallace as defense secretary and James Cleverly as foreign secretary. He also reappointed Suella Braverman as home secretary, a job she was forced out of last week. See Sunak’s top appointments.

Earlier this month, OPEC nations, steered by Saudi Arabia and Russia, voted to slash oil production by two million barrels per day. For the U.S., which believed it had struck a secret deal with the Saudis to boost production, it seemed like an about-face — and spurred a reassessment of America’s relationship with the kingdom.

Lawmakers in the U.S. have been left fuming that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman duped the Biden administration. Far from rebuilding a relationship with the prince, whom President Biden once pledged to treat as a “pariah” after the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the outcome has been another low point in America’s tumultuous ties with Saudi Arabia. A Times investigation explores what went wrong.

It reveals, too, how Saudi Arabia, under its ambitious and often ruthless crown prince, appears eager to shed some of its longtime reliance on the U.S., with Prince Mohammed trying to position Saudi Arabia as a powerhouse of its own. Deconstructing Saudi decision-making has become especially difficult, said Hussein Ibish of the Arab Gulf States Institute.

Oil prices: U.S. officials are bracing for another potential price surge in December, if a European embargo on Russian oil goes into effect and the Saudis refuse to increase production to make up for the anticipated drop in supply.

The Long Island hamlet of Yarphank, about 60 miles from Manhattan, was once home to a pro-Nazi summer camp, operated in the 1930s by the German American Bund. Its teenage participants swam, hiked, competed in archery and went to dances, all the while absorbing Nazi ideology. “On the surface,” one historian said, “it was like any other camp, except it was filled with swastikas.”

That camp is the inspiration for “Camp Siegfried,” an intimate two-character play by the writer Bess Wohl. “if we’re going to live up to the moral imperative of ‘never again,’ we have to look at these stories, we have to tell these stories and we have to learn from them,” she said.

Removing Cristiano Ronaldo helped Bruno Fernandes at Manchester United: Erik ten Hag’s decision to put Fernandes at the center of his system has proved decisive.

“My mind-set was, I have to get out of there”: Callum Hudson-Odoi describes his time at Chelsea, coming back from injury and learning from Xabi Alonso at Bayer Leverkusen.

Manchester City’s recovery plan for Erling Haaland is working: There was a time during Haaland’s transfer saga when doubt was cast about the Norwegian’s fitness. It’s safe to say the risk is paying off thus far, after all the uncertainty.

London, Rome, Helsinki: One of the best ways to learn about a city is through its literature. In Read Your Way Around the World, a series from The Times’s Books desk, authors provide literary guides to their cities, including book recommendations that capture a sense of everyday life and the local cultural landscape.

Juliana Barbassa, the creator of the series, hopes to provide “a depth of experience” to travelers, she said — whether they have plans to visit or are simply curious.

The Paris installment, by Leïla Slimani, winner of France’s Goncourt Prize, recommends books that reveal hidden facets of the city. Juan Villoro’s recommendations for Mexico City explore the perceptions of visitors like Paul Theroux and D.H. Lawrence. And Yasmine El Rashidi’s Cairo edition tried to capture the “atmosphere” of the modern Egyptian capital.

Months after its debut, the series has already engendered passionate dialogue, encouraging reader engagement and feedback. The comments section usually becomes an expanded reading list beyond the writer’s recommendations. In a way, the series has done more than offer literary guides: It has created a global book club.


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