Wednesday Briefing: Ukraine’s Next Move

Ukraine’s counteroffensive, launched in early June, aims to reclaim land in the south and east of the country.Credit…Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters

Ukraine confronts a second Russian defense line

Ukrainian forces are battling to break through a Russian defense line in the south near the village of Verbove, military analysts said. The push comes a week after Ukrainian forces said they had retaken the village of Robotyne, the first of several tiers of formidable defenses that Russia has built in the south.

Ukrainian forces cleared some Russian entrenchments in Verbove, although it is unclear if they have retaken and secured territory in the area, according to groups that study open-source information on the war.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian Army in the south said that the Russian trenches and dugouts that Kyiv’s forces were now encountering were “not as strong” as those from the first line of defense. But he added that Russian minefields would complicate Ukraine’s push forward. Military analysts have also suggested that Moscow has reinforced its defenses south of Robotyne with more troops.

Takeaway: The retaking of Robotyne is a significant moment in Ukraine’s counteroffensive and its efforts to sever Moscow’s supply lines to occupied Crimea. Its push from Robotyne east to Verbove is aimed at widening the breach, which would allow Ukrainian forces to bring in more equipment and personnel to support their advance south.

Other news from the war:

  • President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said yesterday that he had visited troops fighting on the front lines in the country’s east, his latest in a series of trips this week aimed at bolstering morale.

  • Cuba’s government said it had uncovered a “human trafficking network” that recruited Cuban citizens to fight for Russia in Ukraine.

  • Oil and gas platforms have become a new target of attacks in the Black Sea.

  • A rare trip by North Korea’s leader to Russia this month could provide two things the North has wanted for a long time: technical help with its weapons programs and to be needed by an important neighbor.

The level of fanfare has redefined what it means to hold the G20 presidency.Credit…Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters

India’s G20 public relations blitz

With wall-to-wall promotion and a barnstorming flair, India and its governing party are milking the lead-up to this weekend’s G20 summit for all it’s worth.

In cities across India, the beaming face of Prime Minister Narendra Modi adorns giant posters promoting the country’s G20 presidency, national monuments are illuminated with the G20 logo, and TV shows and newspapers rave nonstop about India’s moment in the spotlight.

The government is reported to have spent more than $100 million on events related to the G20 across dozens of Indian cities. To the prime minister’s opponents, the promotional barrage has been an unseemly political hijacking of an international gathering intended to foster economic cooperation. The events have in effect allowed Modi to start campaigning long before the start of the political season.

BYD has been one of the stars of the auto show in Munich this week.Credit…Leonhard Simon/Reuters

Chinese cars shine at the Munich auto show

At I.A.A. Mobility, a massive auto show in Munich, newcomers from China are stealing the show. Chinese electric automakers have their eyes on Europe, where gas-fueled cars are to be banned in 12 years. At least seven brands are on display, including a new sedan and a sport utility vehicle from BYD, an all-electric Chinese carmaker that overtook Volkswagen as China’s best-selling brand this year.

The show highlights the rapid transformation of the Chinese car industry into a battery-powered juggernaut. It also reveals how German automakers, once on the cutting edge of automotive technology and design, are falling behind in the global race to produce more electric vehicles.


Asia Pacific

South Korean teachers at a rally in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on Monday.Credit…Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
  • Teachers across South Korea are holding street protests against the pressure and harassment they face from parents making excessive demands of them.

  • The prime minister of Vanuatu, who was criticized for veering too close to the West, was ousted in a no-confidence vote. His supporters accused China of interfering.

  • Country Garden, China’s biggest property developer, made a late interest payment, averting an immediate default on its debts.

  • Hong Kong’s top court ruled that the city’s government must have a framework to recognize same-sex partnerships, delivering a partial victory to L.G.B.T.Q. activists.

  • Officials in Australia are offering a reward to find those responsible for the culling of more than 250 trees at a waterside reserve.

Around the World

Palestinian and Saudi leaders in April, in a handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace.Credit…Bandar Al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • Three senior Palestinian officials planned to arrive in Riyadh yesterday for talks on a U.S. effort to broker a deal on establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

  • A plan to send an international force led by Kenya to restore order in Haiti is raising doubts about what the Kenyans can accomplish.

  • The coach of the Spanish national soccer team that won the Women’s World Cup was ousted after complaints from players about his outdated methods and controlling behavior.

  • New York City officials will start enforcing new regulations that will lead to the removal of thousands of listings from platforms like Airbnb.

A Morning Read

The grave of a “vampire child,” with padlock visible.Credit…Łukasz Czyżewski

Archaeologists working near Pień, Poland have unearthed the remains of what has been described as a “vampire child.”

In 17th-century Europe, the dead were thought to be a constant threat to rise again and bedevil the living. The corpse of the child, who is thought to have been about 6 at the time of death, had an iron padlock under its left foot and was buried facedown, “so that if it returned from the dead and tried to ascend, it would bite into dirt instead,” the lead archaeologist said.


Adwoa Aboah in “Victoria’s Secret World Tour” wearing a look from the London designer Supriya Lele.Credit…Carlijn Jacobs/Victoria’s Secret

Get ready for fashion season

It’s fashion month, and our fashion critic Vanessa Friedman tells us what to watch.

All eyes are on Milan, with the two big debuts of the season: Sabato De Sarno at Gucci and Peter Hawkings at Tom Ford. The stakes are very high for Gucci, the $10 billion house which reportedly wants to move in a more classic direction.

In New York City, Victoria’s Secret is making its first foray back to the runway since 2018 with the premiere of the “Victoria’s Secret World Tour” film/happening. It’s a complicated reset of the old show, involving 20 designers, artists and filmmakers and a cast of models that is as inclusive as possible. (Vanessa wonders if it will be enough to convince the public that the brand really has changed.)

The shows aren’t the only thing to watch. Three fashion documentaries will be released this month — “Donyale Luna: Supermodel,” “The Super Models” and “Invisible Beauty” — focusing on models who changed the dynamics of the industry and opened the door to the age of the influencer and the influencer-activist.


Credit…Nico Schinco for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

Cook kimchi chicken lettuce wraps for a fast path to deliciousness.

Listen to these six podcasts for expert advice on the perils and joys of modern dating.

Read Michiko Aoyama’s “What You Are Looking For Is in the Library,” in which five Tokyo readers get life advice.

Plan a trip to Iceland to enjoy some of its 600 natural hot springs.

Play the Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Jonathan

P.S. Take our Flashback history quiz.

You can reach Jonathan and the team at [email protected].

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