Monday Briefing

China and the U.S. are taking bold steps in their espionage shadow war to try to collect intelligence on leadership thinking and military capabilities.

For the U.S., espionage efforts are a critical part of President Biden’s strategy to constrain China’s military and technological rise. For Beijing, the new tolerance for bold action among Chinese spy agencies is driven by Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, who has pushed his foreign intelligence agency to become more active in farther-flung locales.

U.S. officials have honed their ability to intercept electronic communications, including using spy planes off China’s coast. Chinese agents use social media sites — LinkedIn, in particular — to lure potential recruits, and China even has artificial intelligence software that can detect the gait of an American spy.

Context: The spy game between the U.S. and China is even more expansive than the one that played out between the Americans and the Soviets during the Cold War, Christopher Wray, the F.B.I. director, said. China’s large population and economy enable the country to build intelligence services that are bigger than those of the U.S.

In an interview with The Times, Sauli Niinisto, the president of Finland, warned European leaders and citizens against becoming complacent over the risks of escalation, including the use of nuclear weapons, in Russia’s grinding war against Ukraine.

Niinisto, the person considered most responsible for bringing his country into the NATO alliance, is nearing the end of his 12 years as the president of a nation that shares an 830-mile border with its imperialist neighbor, Russia. The invasion, he said, had been “a wake-up call” for Europe and NATO.

Recalling Finland’s conflicts with Moscow, including the 1939 Winter War, when the Finns fought off the Soviets but had to cede territory, and World War II, Niinisto said European countries that had let down their defenses after the collapse of the Soviet Union made a grave mistake.

The latest: In the most significant recent advance in Ukraine’s hard-fought counteroffensive, the military said it had retaken the small village of Klishchiivka, the second settlement to come back under Kyiv’s control in three days.

Rosh Hashana: Every year, thousands of followers of the spiritual leader Rebbe Nachman of Breslov descend on the Ukrainian town of Uman to worship, dance and pay homage at his tomb.

Nearly a week after devastating flooding in Libya killed at least 11,300 people and left more than 10,000 people missing, according to the U.N., rescue groups said that hopes for finding survivors were diminishing. Now, the authorities have turned their focus to public health, fearing that conditions in the disaster zone could cause diseases to spread.

The tragedy has displaced more than 40,000 people, according to the International Organization of Migration. Survivors are suffering a shortage of medical supplies and having to deal with contaminated drinking water.

A woman accused Saifullah Khan, an acquaintance at Yale University, of raping her after a Halloween party. He was acquitted in a criminal trial, but the university expelled him. Now, Kahn has sued his accuser for defamation, in a suit that is challenging the way universities across the country have adjudicated such sexual assault hearings.

The biggest story in sports: Our columnist Kurt Streeter reflects on watershed moments in the rise of female athletes.

A $25 million windfall: An Ecuadorean club benefited in a big way from the Moises Caicedo transfer.

Stellar guest list: Every week, a group of former pros gathers in Manchester, England, for what may be the best pickup soccer game in the world.

The top Russian soprano Anna Netrebko made her first appearance in a staged opera in Germany since Russia invaded Ukraine, in the Berlin State Opera’s production of “Macbeth,” by Verdi. She has been under fire in the West for her long history of support for President Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader.

Netrebko received a warm ovation at her curtain call — even as angry protests raged outside the opera house.

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