Your Monday Briefing: The Aftermath of a Russian Revolt

The day after an armed rebellion by Wagner mercenaries against Vladimir Putin’s government was defused at the last minute, neither Putin nor the mercenary leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, made a public appearance, adding to the sense of uncertainty and confusion pervading Russia. The swirl of events over the last few days has left questions about Putin’s authority and the future of the war in Ukraine.

The armed uprising, which Prigozhin led, called into question Russia’s justifications for its war in Ukraine and the competency of its military leadership. Wagner forces marched toward Moscow with the aim of challenging Russia’s military leadership, and while they took control of a midsize Russian city, Rostov-on-Don, they failed to gather much public support.

By Saturday night, Aleksandr Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus, had stepped in and arranged for Prigozhin to go to Belarus and avoid criminal charges, and for the Wagner fighters to avoid repercussions.

Reaction: Residents cheered and embraced the mercenaries as they left Rostov-on-Don on Saturday. My colleague Roger Cohen writes that Prigozhin’s description of his actions as a “march for justice” will have resonated with some, perhaps many, Russians.

Previously unreported shipments between a state-owned Chinese company and a Russian munitions factory are raising new questions about Beijing’s role in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

On two separate occasions last year, Poly Technologies, a state-owned Chinese company, sent tens of thousands of kilograms of smokeless powder to an ammunition factory in central Russia with a history of supplying the Russian government. These shipments were identified by Import Genius, a U.S.-based trade data aggregator.

U.S. officials have expressed concerns that China could funnel products to Russia that would help in its war effort — what is known as “lethal aid” — though they have not said outright that China has made such shipments.

Takeaway: There is no known direct link between the shipments of smokeless powder and the Ukrainian battlefield, but some experts said the shipments constituted lethal assistance.

Context: China has remained officially unaligned in the war. In practice, however, it has become an important partner for Russia, after proclaiming a “no limits” partnership early last year.

A flood of accusations of sexual harassment and assault has reached the very top of Taiwan’s political establishment, prompting a reckoning with women’s rights on the democratic island — one of Asia’s most progressive places. Nearly every day, fresh allegations emerge, setting off discussions on talk shows and social media.

Senior party and government officials in President Tsai Ing-wen’s governing Democratic Progressive Party were among the first accused, forcing her to apologize for her party’s mishandling of internal complaints. The scandal is complicating the party’s record as a champion of liberal values and poses a risk to its credibility with younger voters ahead of an election next year.

Catalyst: The outpouring of complaints was set off by a popular Netflix political drama, “Wave Makers.” The show features a subplot about sexual harassment in a Taiwanese political party, and one character’s response — “Let’s not just let this go this time” — has become a rallying cry online.

Context: Taiwan stands out for the significant strides that women have made, but the flood of sexual harassment accusations points to what scholars say is entrenched sexism and a culture that is quick to blame victims.

On Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands, a 750-mile route links 88 Buddhist temples that claim a connection to Kukai, the celebrated monk who founded one of the major schools of Buddhism in Japan.

In the past, the route was traveled almost exclusively by Buddhist pilgrims, but the trek has grown to include young people on journeys of self-discovery, older hikers enjoying their retirement and even foreign visitors. Our writer also found a remarkable tradition of generosity. The people of Shikoku practice osettai, the act of giving gifts to pilgrims, which can come in the form of a trinket, a meal, a car ride or even a place to sleep.

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