Your Tuesday Briefing: Ukraine Prepares a Counteroffensive
Ukrainian soldiers monitoring the front line in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday.Credit…Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
Ukraine’s coming assault
Over the winter, Ukraine rebuffed a Russian offensive. Now it’s Ukraine’s turn to go on the attack — and there are signs that the counteroffensive will begin in the next month or so.
Thousands of recruits are training in newly constituted fighting units tailored for offensives. And the military command is holding back elite soldiers from the worst of the fighting, in order to throw them instead into the coming campaign.
The new Ukrainian campaign, when it comes, will be a test of its army’s ability to rearm and reconstitute battalions while maintaining the motivation and maneuvering skills that gave it an edge in three previous counteroffensives.
The challenges are daunting. Ukrainian officers will have to choreograph artillery, infantry and armored vehicle assaults that can crash through the Russian trenches, tank traps and minefields.
But if its weapons and trained troops fall into place in time, Ukraine is capable of inflicting losses on the Russian Army that could have far-reaching geopolitical consequences, said Evelyn Farkas, an expert at the McCain Institute. She posited a once-unthinkable outcome: that Ukraine could render Russia a weakened military power, with little leverage in negotiations to end the war.
The goal: Ukraine is seen as planning to drive a wedge through Russian-occupied territory along the southern coasts of the Black and Azov Seas, near Crimea, or seek a humiliating turnabout in the fighting in the eastern Donbas region — or both.
Challenges: Ukraine’s allies have delayed sending weapons, troops have had to make do with crash courses and success is hardly assured.
Other news from the war:
Russian authorities detained a Russian woman on Monday for the bombing that killed a pro-war blogger at a St. Petersburg cafe on Sunday.
The leader of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group said that Russia had raised its flag over Bakhmut, but a senior Ukrainian official said Kyiv’s forces were still fighting for the city.
Trump returns to Manhattan to surrender
Former President Donald Trump made his heavily anticipated arrival in New York on Monday as he prepared to walk into a Manhattan courtroom as both a defendant and a candidate.
Trump’s team continued to make final plans for his arrest today, while also trying to maximize his surrender for political benefit. (Here’s what we know about the charges.)
The State of the War
- Counteroffensive Challenges: With powerful Western weapons and newly formed assault units, Ukraine is poised for a critical spring campaign. But overcoming casualties and keeping troops motivated will be stern tests.
- A High-Profile Attack: An influential Russian military blogger was killed when a bomb exploded in a cafe in St. Petersburg on April 2. Russian authorities have detained a suspect in the killing.
- Arrest of American Reporter: With the arrest of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal correspondent, President Vladimir Putin signaled to the world that he was doubling down on Russia’s isolation from the West.
Authorities, who are preparing for any protests that could accompany Trump’s arraignment, said that so far there was no indication of threats like the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
What’s next: When he arrives in court today, Trump will be surrounded by a phalanx of Secret Service agents. He will be fingerprinted and will possibly have a police photo taken. While it is standard for defendants arrested on felony charges to be handcuffed, it is unclear whether an exception will be made for a former president.
The campaign: Recent polls have shown increased support for Trump since news of the indictment broke last week, and his potential Republican primary opponents have been rallying to his defense.
Trump’s campaign has been using his indictment in fund-raising appeals, and said it had raised $7 million since the news became public. The campaign scheduled a prime-time news conference at Mar-a-Lago tonight, just hours after Trump is expected to turn himself in.
North Koreans in “state-sponsored slavery” abroad
For more than three decades, North Korea has sent workers abroad to make money for its regime.
Tens of thousands of these workers have toiled in Russian logging camps, Chinese factories and Eastern European farms, sending billions of dollars home, according to estimates from the South. The workers’ passports are confiscated for fear that they could defect to the South, and their children or parents are left behind as hostages.
A U.N. Security Council resolution required countries to expel the North Korean workers by the end of 2019, but thousands still remain in Russia and China, according to a new report from South Korea’s Unification Ministry. Human rights organizations have likened the conditions to “state-sponsored slavery.”
Context: The cash the workers generate, most of which goes to the North Korean state, is crucial to Kim Jong-un, whose regime is increasingly desperate for foreign currency as it pours resources into its nuclear arsenal.
THE LATEST NEWS
The former principal of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish girls’ school in Melbourne, Australia, was found guilty of sexually abusing students 15 years ago.
The Philippines announced four more military bases that U.S. forces will have access to, at a time of growing tension between U.S. allies and China, Reuters reports.
An Indian court suspended a two-year prison sentence for Rahul Gandhi, an opposition leader and critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, The Associated Press reports.
Around the World
Kosovo’s former leader pleaded not guilty to war crimes related to the country’s fight for independence before an E.U. tribunal at The Hague.
Oil prices surged on Monday, a day after OPEC members announced production cuts.
An overwhelming majority of Parisians voted to ban electric scooters from the French capital.
Other Big Stories
The Biden administration has blacklisted NSO, an Israeli company that makes widely abused hacking tools. Even so, an unknown part of the U.S. government signed a secret contract to use some of NSO’s spyware.
Tulare Lake in California, a huge body of water that was drained by the mid-20th century, reappeared after a barrage of recent storms.
NASA announced the four Artemis II astronauts who will travel to the moon.
A Morning Read
Paul Rusesabagina, the hotelier whose heroism during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda,” returned to the U.S. last Wednesday, after a complex, secretive effort to free him. Securing his release took years of pressure and the combined efforts of the U.S. government, his family and Hollywood.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Revising classic novels
The estates of several revered literary figures are removing content considered offensive from well-known works, raising the question of how, and whether, classics should be updated to conform to current sensibilities.
Words like “Oriental,” “Gypsy” and “native” have been stripped from books by Agatha Christie. Adjectives like “fat” and “ugly” have been removed from Roald Dahl. And Ian Fleming’s “James Bond” books will be scrubbed of racist and sexist phrases.
Proponents of the practice believe that it makes authors palatable to new generations. Critics contend that editing books posthumously is an affront to authors’ creative autonomy and can amount to censorship.
The effort has put publishers and literary estates at the heart of a heated debate as they grapple with how to preserve an author’s original intent while ensuring that their work continues to resonate — and sell.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Cozonac, a sweet, braided loaf from Romania, makes fantastic Easter bread.
What to Watch
The South Korean film “Kill Boksoon,” a Times critic’s pick, follows an assassin who wants to quit for her daughter.
What to Read
“The Long Reckoning,” by the British journalist George Black, explores the environmental devastation American forces left behind after the Vietnam War.
Why Not Try
Disc golf can turn a walk into a workout.
Now Time to Play
Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Word after power or pitcher (five letters).
Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.
You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Dan
P.S. “The Run-Up,” a politics podcast from The Times, is back for a new season.
“The Daily” is on Trump’s reaction to the indictment.
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