Hello. This is your Russia-Ukraine War Briefing, a weeknight guide to the latest news and analysis about the conflict.
The coming battle for the south
Ukraine has ramped up its attacks on the southern front for weeks, using sophisticated Western weapons to hit Russian supply weak points. The hits are in preparation for a major offensive that the Ukrainian military plans to launch to retake the city of Kherson, which Russia occupied in the first days of the war.
But Ukraine warned today that the Russian Army appeared to be massing forces along the same battlefront, preparing for its own attack, our Ukraine bureau chief, Andrew Kramer, reports. This could mean that the battle in the south will be a more pitched, seesaw one, relative to what most analysts expected.
“The enemy continues to wage hostilities along the occupied defense line,” Ukraine’s Operational Southern Command said, adding that Russia is assembling troops there for an assault.
Although the front line stretches in an arc for more than 1,500 miles, from the city of Kharkiv in the north to the city of Kherson in the south, it is effectively two distinct theaters of war.
In the eastern Donbas region, Russia has been slowly advancing, while in the southern Kherson region, Ukraine has been recapturing territory.
In eastern Ukraine, the fighting has settled into a stalemate of Russian advances in some areas and Ukrainian counterattacks in others, with neither side moving more than a few miles over weeks of combat.
The massing of an assault force in the northern portion of Russia-occupied territory around Kherson would pose challenges to Ukraine’s counteroffensive. In the coming weeks, Ukrainian officials hope to show gains in the south to shore up their argument that they can win the war and reassure their Western allies. Already Russian troops have staged probing attacks with tanks but did not break through Ukrainian lines, according to the Ukrainian military.
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Zelensky treads carefully with China
President Volodymyr Zelensky does not normally shy away from forcefully pleading Ukraine’s case, even when talking to allies or countries hesitant to side against Russia.
But today he struck a more measured tone when speaking about China’s position on the war.
“I would like China to join the unified world position on the tyranny of Russia against Ukraine,” he said in a video meeting with thousands of students organized by the Australian National University. “As for now, China is balancing and indeed has neutrality. I will be honest: This neutrality is better than if China would join Russia.”
From the outset of the war, the U.S. was able to use the threat of heavy sanctions to dissuade China from providing weapons and economic assistance to Russia. China claims it is neutral because it has refrained from explicit support for either side.
Although the Ukrainian government works tirelessly to persuade nations to isolate Russia, Zelensky said, each country makes its own calculations.
“I believe the people of China will make a prudent choice,” he said. “It’s important for us that China will not help Russia.”
His comments came amid tensions over U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which angered China. Ukrainian officials have been largely silent about Pelosi’s trip.
The war and your wallet
Many of us are feeling economic pain right now, with inflation eating away at how much we can buy and a slowdown in the market eroding our savings. The war in Ukraine has only exacerbated our financial issues.
While it may be taking place in a corner of Eastern Europe, the war’s effects are being felt across the globe. In parts of Africa, a food crisis has veered dangerously toward famine. In the U.S., gasoline prices skyrocketed. In Europe, many countries are starting to ration natural gas.
But we’d like to hear from you. How has the war in Ukraine affected you economically? If you’d like to participate, fill out this form here. We may use your response in an upcoming newsletter.
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Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow — Yana
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The Coming Battle for the South – The New York Times