Your Friday Briefing

Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, plans to declare today that some 40,000 square miles (about 104,000 square kilometers) of eastern and southern Ukraine will become part of Russia.

The annexation has been widely denounced by the West. But it is a sign that Putin is prepared to raise the stakes in the 7-month war. He will do so in a “bulky” speech, a spokesman said, part of a choreographed ceremony designed to lend an air of legitimacy to his illegal inauguration.

Despite Moscow’s stance, the four regions — Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizka and Kherson — are not fully under Russian control after months of fighting. Y Ukrainian forces are closing in on the city of Lyman, a Russian-occupied railway hub, which would leave Moscow’s troops in an increasingly dangerous position in eastern Ukraine.

Struggle: Putin acknowledged “mistakes” in the implementation of his compulsory military service order, as the Kremlin tried to quell public discontent. And the Russian losses are evident in the thousands of calls soldiers have made from the battlefield to relatives back home. “Our offense has stalled,” one man said. “We are losing this war.”

Brazil holds its elections on Sunday and fears are growing that Jair Bolsonaro, its undemocratic president, will accept defeat.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro’s political party released a document claiming, without evidence, that government employees and contractors had “absolute power to manipulate election results without leaving a trace.” The electoral authority immediately rebuked the claims, calling them “false and dishonest, without any support in reality.”

But Bolsonaro may have to override the voters and force an outcome to stay in power. In the polls, he has been far behind Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former president. If da Silva comes to power, it would be an unthinkable comeback for the ardent leftist, who was jailed on corruption charges just three years ago.

Context: For months, Brazilian officials and foreign diplomats have feared that Bolsonaro is setting the stage to dispute an electoral defeat.

Whats Next: If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers will compete in a second round on October 30. But it seems increasingly likely that da Silva could win outright.

Hurricane Ian is headed toward South Carolina after devastating Southwest Florida.

The storm, one of the most powerful to hit the United States in the past decade, left about 2.6 million people without power in Florida as water flooded streets and destroyed homes. The death toll is still being assessed, but President Biden said there were “early reports of what may be a substantial loss of life.”

Climate change played a key role in the destruction. Sea surface temperatures off Florida’s southwestern coast were warmer than usual, allowing the storm to build up energy just before crashing into the state.

Context: Scientists say that while climate change hasn’t necessarily increased the number of hurricanes, it has made them more powerful, as warmer ocean waters strengthen and sustain those storms.

Explanation: The oceans have absorbed more than 90 percent of excess heat from human-caused global warming over the past 50 years. Most of it is stored in the first few hundred meters.

Danny Weil rides a motorcycle in a carnival motordrome known as the “Wall of Death,” which he says is only one of three left in the U.S. He finds its gravity-defying ride family-friendly, but he knows it can be scary. also.

That’s part of the appeal. “You can go to a NASCAR race and possibly see a human being die,” she explained. “And that’s why it’s the most popular spectator sport in the country.”

Is Qatar really ready to host a World Cup?: Qatar has been transformed since winning the corruption-plagued World Cup bid in 2010, but questions linger in the countdown; Are you really ready to host an event of this scale??

The biggest problems the US needs to fix before the World Cup: The most daunting US international window since October 2019 has left Gregg Berhalter looking for answers before Qatar.

Looking for Manchester United owner Joel Glazer: The American family behind one of the world’s biggest soccer clubs is rarely seen or heard.

In a gloomy global economic climate, the southern African nation of Zambia appears to be the exception.

Last year, the country elected Hakainde Hichilema, a wealthy businessman and political outcast, as president. Since then, many Zambians have hailed their new leader as a miracle worker.

Before the elections, Zambia defaulted on its debts and inflation soared. Now, inflation is down to single digits, and the country’s currency, the kwacha, is one of the best performing in the world.

“I felt a lingering sense of relief on my trips to Zambia,” said Ruth Maclean, West Africa bureau chief for the Times. Ruth recently met Hichilema at her home in Lusaka, the capital. As opposition leader, he was arrested 15 times and ran for president five times. Many Zambians relate to him being rude in a thatched hut, and African leaders see in him a new model of leadership.

“He had a kind of firm, steadfast confidence that I imagine could be very reassuring to the countries and companies that Zambia does business with,” Ruth said.

But Zambia’s honeymoon phase may not last. To reform the economy, Hichilema reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund that would include the reduction of fuel and agricultural subsidies. Economists say such policies will hurt the poor and test Hichilema’s vision.

“Zambia is the guinea pig of the moment,” said Ruth. “Look at this space.” — Lynsey Chutel, Johannesburg-based report writer