Your Tuesday Briefing: Is Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Here?

Usman Deen

Global Courant

Has the counteroffensive begun?

Ukraine yesterday intensified attacks on Russian positions along many parts of the frontline. US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the spate of attacks could indicate Ukraine had launched an expected counter-offensive, which could be its best chance to regain territory and secure peace negotiations with a strong hand.

The officials based their assessment in part on information from military satellites, which detected an increase in action from Ukrainian positions. Ukraine has long said it would not make a formal announcement about the start of its counter-offensive.

Russia also said a major operation had begun in five locations along the front in an eastern region, Donetsk, but it had repelled them. Bloggers associated with the Russian military reported that Ukrainian forces had advanced in some areas and seized a village in Donetsk, but the claims could not be confirmed.

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US military analysts said they believed Ukrainian units were making a first attempt to determine the positions and strength of Russian troops, a traditional tactic Americans had been training to use Ukrainian troops.

Strategy: Attacks were reported east of where analysts had expected the counteroffensive to begin. But even by starting in that area, Ukraine could maintain the same goal: move south toward the Sea of ​​Azov and cut off the “land bridge” connecting Crimea to Russia.

The stakes: If the counter-offensive is successful, Kiev could secure longer-term commitments for military aid from the West. Victories could also strengthen President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hand in any peace talks with Russia. Failure or lack of major progress could complicate Ukraine’s path forward and lead some Western officials to question its war strategy.

Trains restart near crash site in India

Railway lines reopened at Bahanaga Bazar railway station, where at least 275 people died in a catastrophic accident on Friday. The resumption of service could reduce disruption and help more families reach the area and identify their loved ones. There are still over 100 unclaimed bodies.

Questions continue to arise about who was responsible for the three-way accident. (These images show how the disaster happened.) Officials are focused on the malfunction of an electronic signal, but are not ruling out sabotage. They are also investigating whether negligence played a role, but they have not identified any suspects.

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Response: Opposition politicians called for the resignation of the railway minister and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of not doing enough to ensure rail safety.

Modi’s focus: India spent nearly $30 billion on the rail system in the past fiscal year, up more than 15 percent from the previous year. But most of Modi’s initiatives have focused on improving speed and comfort – not basic safety. The amount spent on rail maintenance and other safety measures is falling.

Possible poisonings in Afghanistan

Afghan officials believe 89 schoolgirls and their teachers were deliberately poisoned at two girls’ schools. Some were hospitalized with respiratory and neurological symptoms, and officials said security and intelligence agencies were still searching for the perpetrators.

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On Saturday, 63 students and staff in northern Sar-i-Pul province fell ill shortly after arriving at school, officials and parents said. The following day, 26 more students and staff at a nearby school reported similar symptoms.

The matters come at a precarious time for Afghan women and girls. Restrictions on education have become a focal point since the Taliban seized power in 2021. They symbolize the government’s policy towards women, effectively eliminating them from public life. The Taliban has barred girls from sixth grade from school; most of these students were 6 to 12 years old.

History: The UN investigated similar cases between 2012 and 2016 and found no trace of chemical gas or poison. This is reported by the Wall Street Journal. The UN concluded that the symptoms were due to a mass psychogenic illness, a form of social panic.

In Iran: Earlier this year, hundreds of schoolgirls were hospitalized after what officials say may have been deliberate attempts to prevent them from attending school. The Home Secretary blamed stress and anxiety for some of their symptoms.

For more: In “The Daily,” three Afghan women talk about how life changed under the Taliban.


Asia Pacific

A small pop-up market in Los Angeles is trying to become a hub for the city’s Filipino community. The creators envision it as an intergenerational space where new Filipino companies can experiment, connect with their audiences and expand.


Prince Harry versus the tabloids

Prince Harry’s bitter, long-standing feud with the British tabloids comes to a head this week. Today he will testify in a London courtroom against the Mirror newspaper group, which he says hacked into his phone more than a decade ago. He has filed two other lawsuits against the British tabloid publishers in connection with the unauthorized collection of information.

Harry’s lawyers say the Mirror used private investigators to obtain information about him illegally, including by intercepting voicemail messages. The publisher apologized and admitted to obtaining information about Harry illegally in one instance, but denies the hacking allegations.

The testimony puts the House of Windsor on edge. Harry will be the first senior member of the royal family to be cross-examined in a court case since the 19th century. (Usually, the family prefers to settle legal claims.) In court, Harry may face questions about his personal life or his relationships with other members of the royal family.

Background: The case is about more than just money. Harry has said he holds the tabloids responsible for the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in a car crash in 1997. In his memoirs, he also described the trauma the intrusive tabloid coverage has left him with.


What to cook

Practice the basics of grilling with these five recipes.

What to watch

In ‘Past Lives’, a wistful what-if story, two childhood friends from Seoul cross each other’s lives across decades and continents.

What to read

In “August Blue,” a new novel by Deborah Levy, a pianist reforms herself in the midst of personal and global crises.

From Wirecutter

How to get rid of your old electronics.

Now time to play

Play the mini crossword and a clue: mushrooms and stuff (five letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Until next time. — Amelia

PS Fictional cocktails, a puppy’s stool: We asked readers to show us the contents of their Notes apps.

Thanks for your feedback. You can always reach us at [email protected].

Your Tuesday Briefing: Is Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Here?

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