Checking In on Ukraine’s Counteroffensive

Happy Thursday! One story dominated the news out of Green Bay, Wisconsin all week: Bears popping up in trees across town, again and again and again. 

While the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources didn’t offer an official explanation for the sudden ursine explosion, it seems possible, with the NFL season approaching, the bears headed north from Chicago to avoid further humiliation. Last Saturday, the rebuilding Green Bay Packers hosted nearly 65,222 fans at Lambeau Field not for a game, but for Packers Family night, essentially an extended practice. The following day, the Packers’ onetime rival, the Chicago Bears, only managed a crowd of 15,106 fans at Bears Family Fest. The resulting photo comparison was—er, with apologies—embarrassing.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories 

  • President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Wednesday placing new limits on American investments in China’s technology industry, including investments in advanced semiconductors, quantum computers, and artificial intelligence relevant to military applications. The order—which cites the International Emergency Economic Powers Act—will also require U.S. companies working with China to notify the Treasury Department about investments in AI and less advanced semiconductors. The details will be ironed out as the Treasury Department solicits public input for its final rulemaking under the order, and the rules will go into effect next year.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced yesterday that Russia intends to shore up its military presence along the country’s borders with NATO members, claiming the action is necessary due to NATO’s moves to admit Finland and Sweden, as well as the buildup of military forces in border states like Poland. 
  • The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have agreed on a path to normalizing relations between Israel and the Middle Eastern country, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. The deal, which the U.S. hopes to finalize in the next nine to 12 months, reportedly offers concessions to the Palestinians in exchange for Saudi Arabia recognizing Israel. U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman two weeks ago in an effort to move the negotiations along. 
  • The White House announced yesterday it had launched a two-year competition to identify and patch software vulnerabilities using artificial intelligence. The AI Cyber Challenge—overseen by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in collaboration with four top AI companies—will task participants with using the emerging technology to secure “vital software” with AI.
  • The U.S. Treasury imposed additional sanctions on Belarus yesterday over the contested 2020 election of the country’s president Alexander Lukashenko. The new sanctions target Belarus’ main airline, state-owned aviation and steel companies, and the country’s Department of Financial Monitoring—a government body the U.S. says is involved in suppressing civil liberties and the free press. Eight individuals associated with those entities and efforts to help Lukashenko evade sanctions are also targeted.
  • Special counsel Jack Smith obtained a search warrant earlier this year for former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account, according to court documents released yesterday. Twitter was fined $350,000 for its delayed compliance with the search warrant. Trump’s tweets were cited multiple times in Smith’s indictment of Trump, which charged the former president with illegal actions related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. 
  • FBI agents attempting to arrest a Utah man being investigated for allegedly threatening President Joe Biden’s life shot and killed the man during a confrontation Wednesday morning. The man, Craig Robertson, had allegedly made online posts threatening Biden—as well as Vice President Kamala Harris and New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg*—that coincided with Biden’s trip to Utah. “The FBI takes all shooting incidents involving our agents or task force members seriously,” the agency said in a statement. “In accordance with FBI policy, the shooting incident is under review by the FBI’s Inspection Division.”
  • Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California—Congress’ oldest sitting member—briefly went to the hospital on Tuesday after a “minor fall in her home,” her office announced yesterday. Feinstein, 90, has faced pressure from Democrats to step down before her term expires in January 2025 amid signs of confusion and a monthslong hiatus earlier this year due to shingles.
  • The second GOP presidential primary debate will be hosted by Fox Business, the Republican National Committee announced yesterday. Spanish-language network Univision and right-leaning video platform Rumble will be partners for the debate, which is set to take place next month at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in California. Frontrunner Donald Trump has not yet announced whether he will partake in the RNC’s first primary debate in Milwaukee on August 23, but said yesterday he will not sign the loyalty pledge that party officials have made a prerequisite for participation.
  • Wildfires in Hawaii concentrated on the island of Maui have forced residents to flee, in some cases, into the Pacific Ocean. The fires—fanned by winds from Hurricane Dora—have killed at least six people and prompted the evacuation of more than 2,100 others.

The Counteroffensive Grinds On

Ukrainian soldiers receive training near the Zaporizhzhia region of southeastern Ukraine on August 2, 2023. (Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers receive training near the Zaporizhzhia region of southeastern Ukraine on August 2, 2023. (Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images)

As anticipation built in the spring ahead of Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive against invading Russian forces, some observers hoped it would usher in the end of the war. Leaders in Kyiv tried to temper expectations. “Most people are … waiting for something huge,” the Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in May. He feared that would lead to “emotional disappointment.” He was not wrong. 

The Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russia’s invasion, now entering its third month, has not yet produced any major breakthroughs against a heavily fortified Russian line. Though the effort is likely to continue for several more months and may still deliver some significant battlefield victories, Ukrainian officials are worried Western support could begin to wane—particularly in the U.S.—without a clear end to the conflict in sight.

This content is available exclusively to Dispatch members
Try a membership for full access to every newsletter and all of The Dispatch. Support quality, fact-based journalism.
Already a paid member? Sign In
Comments (292)
Join The Dispatch to participate in the comments.
Load More