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A Ukrainian serviceman gestures next to a 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzer before firing toward Russian troops, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, at a position on a front line in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine November 15, 2023


Ukrainian troops fight for key bridgehead over the Dnipro

Ukrainian troops have crossed the vast Dnipro River and established a bridgehead on the eastern shore, a significant breakthrough after months of agonizingly slow progress in Kyiv’s counteroffensive. If they can hold – and it’s a big “if,” as a Russian regional official says “a fiery hell has been arranged” for Ukrainian troops – the largest geographic barrier on the road to Crimea will be at their backs.

The lay of the land: The Dnipro is the longest river in Europe, and flows in a gentle north-south curve along the entire length of Ukraine. It empties into the Black Sea just southwest of Kherson, which Ukrainian troops liberated a year ago, and controls access thence to the Crimean peninsula, a major symbolic and strategic objective for Kyiv.

Ukrainian troops appear to have secured control over a strip of riverfront between Kherson and the strategic village of Krynky about 24 miles east-northeast. Porting the heavy equipment they’ll need to keep up the attack across the Dnipro is challenging, with most of the bridges in the region long-since destroyed, but a temporary bridge near Krynky, where the Dnipro is narrowest, could change the equation.

Don’t expect a rapid breakthrough: Even if Ukrainian troops do manage to bring over the armor and weapons they need to advance, Russia has multiple lines of prepared defenses to fall back upon. There are no easy countermeasures to the minefields and long-range strikes that have stymied Ukrainian progress since the summer. That said, successfully pulling off one of the toughest maneuvers in modern warfare could represent a morale victory, challenging notions that the conflict has ossified into a “stalemate,” as Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhniy put it recently.

A satellite image shows smoke billowing from a Russian Black Sea Navy HQ after a missile strike, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Sevastopol, Crimea, September 22, 2023.


Ukraine strikes Russian targets in Crimea

Ukraine has faced a wave of bad news from the West in recent days.
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President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden greet President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine at the South Portico of the White House. Zelensky is meeting with Biden following his participation in the United Nations high-level meetings earlier this week.

Allison Bailey/NurPhoto via Reuters

Ukraine war sees escalation of weapons and words

After a week of high-stakes diplomacy, including stops in Washington, the UN General Assembly in New York, Ottawa, and Lublin, Poland, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky returned home amid fresh conflict in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

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Elon Musk's Starlink cutoff controversy
Elon's Starlink cutoff controversy | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Elon Musk's Starlink cutoff controversy

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. And a Quick Take. Wanted to talk about Starlink, and the big story coming out with Walter Isaacson's massive blockbuster bio. It’s about to come out on Elon Musk and hearing that Elon had taken away Starlink for attacks, Ukrainian attacks on Crimea, wouldn't give them permission. Also southeast Ukraine, stop some of the fighting that was going on there. And his concerns that this was going to lead to nuclear war, his concerns that this would have targeted Starlink, targeted Elon Musk directly, why would he want to make those decisions? He's just, as he quotes with Walter Isaacson, just wants people to have Netflix and chill and instead he's a belligerent in the war, doesn't want to be using this for war.
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Saudi-led peace talks on Ukraine
Saudi-led peace talks on Ukraine | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Saudi-led peace talks on Ukraine

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. A Quick Take to kick off your week hot summer week.

And the Saudis are saying that they are going to host a broad peace conference on Ukraine this weekend. Lots to unpack here. First of all, the Ukrainians are going. It looks like the Americans are sending Jake Sullivan, the national security advisor. He's been back and forth to the kingdom a fair bit of late. And the Ukrainians are saying that these talks will be on the basis of the ten-point peace plan that they rolled out last year. Nothing particularly earth-shattering about that plan. Not a surprise they'd be okay with it. It is the Russians returning all the land.It is war reparations being paid by Russia. It is war crimes being fully investigated, prosecuted. None of which is acceptable to the Kremlin. But if the Saudis are hosting it, the Ukrainians are part of it, and everyone is invited - the Chinese, the Indians, the Brazilians, the Europeans, but not the Russians. And what we seem to see is that the Russians haven't had communications directly with the Saudis on this, and instead you have the Kremlin spokesperson saying they're studying it. You know, they're of course, they want to be constructive. That's the official position. So we're going to see where this is going. It's pretty interesting.

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Black Sea grain deal commercial vessels wait to pass the Bosphorus Strait near Istanbul, Turkey.

REUTERS/Mehmet Emin Calsikan

Russia kills Ukraine grain deal

On Monday, Russia confirmed that the Ukrainian grain deal was "suspended" after the last extension expired. The Kremlin did not give a reason, but the announcement occurred just hours after Moscow claimed that Ukraine had attacked the Kerch bridge connecting the Crimea peninsula to the Russian mainland. Kyiv has denied responsibility.

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Ukrainian servicemen fire a multiple launch rocket system toward Russian troops near a front line in Zaporizhzhia region.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS

Is Ukraine picking up the pace?

As we wrote three weeks ago, the single most important (realistic) objective of Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive against Russian invaders is to persuade backers in Europe and the United States that Ukraine can make good use of more weapons, training, and money to finally win the war. The immediate hope shared in Kyiv, Washington, and European capitals is that in the coming months, Ukrainian forces can drive a wedge to the country’s southern coast, separating Russian forces in Crimea from those in the eastern Donbas region.

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Ukraine dam sabotage: not enough evidence to speculate

Ukraine dam sabotage: not enough evidence to speculate

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

Is the destruction of the dam in Ukraine Nord Stream 2 all over again?

We don't know, and I would wait until we have some evidence before we announce who's behind this. It's not going to make much of a difference for the Ukrainian counteroffensive, this is not where the land bridge is most easily broken. So that's probably not an impact. It's also going to affect both a lot of Ukrainians and a lot of Russians on the ground. Maybe the biggest catastrophe is for Russians if they lose all of the access to fresh water for Crimea. So maybe you'd say the Ukrainians had more reason to do it, but if the Russians felt like they were like in desperate shape, it's possible they'd sabotage. I don't have a strong view here and I think we should wait till we have some evidence, kind of like we needed to on Nord Stream.

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