Ukraine Prepares to Mount its Counteroffensive

Happy Monday! We haven’t read past the headline, but the Wall Street Journal published an article over the weekend encouraging readers to eat more bread. Don’t have to tell us twice!

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Sudanese military and rival paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces (RSF) agreed Sunday to a second 72-hour extension of a United States-brokered truce, though some fighting has continued throughout the agreed ceasefire as the conflict enters its third week. The U.S. executed its first overland civilian evacuation from Sudan on Friday, transporting 300 U.S. citizens to the Red Sea in a drone-monitored bus convoy. The State Department says about 5,000 Americans have signed up for security alerts, well below the 16,000 citizens originally estimated to be in the country.
  • Republicans in the South Carolina and Nebraska legislatures shot down bills last week that would have restricted abortion access in each state. In South Carolina, six Republican state senators sunk a bill that would’ve banned abortion after conception with exceptions for rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother. In Nebraska, one Republican legislator abstained from voting on a six-week abortion ban, tipping the vote against the bill. Abortion remains legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy in Nebraska and 22 weeks in South Carolina. 
  • Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told the Wall Street Journal Friday he has a “pretty good idea” who leaked the draft Dobbs v. Jackson decision that ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade, claiming the leak was part of an effort to reverse the court’s decision. Alito noted the court’s marshal conducted an investigation into the breach, but said the suspect couldn’t be identified with “the level of proof that is needed to name somebody.”
  • Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis enacted four gun laws on Friday, raising the legal gun purchasing age from 18 to 21, instituting a three-day waiting period for gun purchases, and removing some lawsuit protections for gun and ammunition manufacturers. One of the new measures also expands the state’s “red flag” law, enabling teachers, medical professionals, and district attorneys to request a court order to temporarily seize a person’s guns if they are believed to pose a danger. Gun rights advocacy groups have already filed lawsuits contesting the constitutionality of the waiting period and age limit measures.
  • Three U.S. troops died Thursday—and a fourth was hospitalized—after two Army helicopters collided during a training mission at Fort Wainwright in Alaska. The Army has not determined the cause of the crash, but announced a temporary ground stop of all flights—except those on critical missions—to allow aviators to attend an additional daylong training course over the next week. Last week’s crash was the second such accident in recent weeks; nine soldiers were killed on March 29 when two helicopters collided at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that employer spending on wages and benefits—a closely watched indicator of inflation—increased 1.2 percent last quarter, a slight uptick from the 1.1 percent quarter-over-quarter increase in late 2022. The increase strengthens expectations that the Federal Reserve will announce another 25-basis-point interest rate hike later this week.
  • President Joe Biden announced Friday he will commute the sentences of 31 nonviolent drug offenders who were serving out their sentences in home confinement. The move comes amid a broader criminal justice reform push from the administration, which has focused on expanding support services like affordable housing and employment programs for people reentering society after completing their sentences.
  • Authorities in San Jacinto County, Texas, said Saturday a suspect who shot and killed five people Friday night—including an 8-year-old boy—is still at large. The local sheriff said the suspected shooter, 38, is likely still carrying his AR-15, which he was known to shoot in his yard. Officers have begun searching the wooded area around Cleveland, Texas—45 minutes northeast of Houston—by foot and with drones but said the suspect “could be anywhere.”

Any Day Now

DONETSK OBLAST, UKRAINE - APRIL 28: Ukrainian soldiers enter coordinates to fire GRAD missiles from a BM-21 in the direction of Bakhmut. (Photo by Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
DONETSK OBLAST, UKRAINE – APRIL 28: Ukrainian soldiers enter coordinates to fire GRAD missiles from a BM-21 in the direction of Bakhmut. (Photo by Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Will Ukrainian forces wait for the summer sun to bake the spring mud dry—better for tracked armored vehicles—before launching their counteroffensive? Are they about to attack in the south, as suggested by a British-trained artillery unit stationed to bolster the lines in Zaporizhzhia? Or have they already begun, with probing attacks on Russian positions east of the Dnipro River in Kherson?

Wary of a ticking clock on Western support and eager to rescue citizens living under Russian occupation, Ukrainian leaders have for months been telegraphing plans for a spring counteroffensive. Despite the Pentagon leaker’s best efforts, we’re not sure where or when they plan to strike—which is just how military leaders like it—but attacking Ukrainian troops will face dwindling ammunition stocks and entrenched defenses, while Russian forces deal with supply and morale issues of their own.

Nobody’s giving details, but the Ukrainian push is starting to feel imminent. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Friday the country’s troops are “mostly ready” for the offensive and “preparations are being finalized.” In mid-March, Mykhailo Podolyak—an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky—told the Wall Street Journal the offensive was “one-and-a-half, two, two-and-a-half months away.”

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