- As Ukraine's counteroffensive entered into its fourth month, US Sec. of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday.1
- During the two-day visit, Blinken is scheduled to meet Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy and foreign minister Dmytro Kuelba, alongside other high-ranking officials and civil society leaders. Blinken is also set to announce a new $1B military aid package, according to a US State Dept. official.2
- In his talks with Zelenskyy, who had visited troops in the eastern city of Bakhmut a day earlier, Blinken is expected to receive an update on the progress of the counteroffensive, but also to consult and coordinate with Ukraine ahead of the UN's annual General Assembly meeting later this month.1
- This comes as Ukraine has recently breached Russia's first line of defense in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, though progress has largely been slower than Ukraine's backers had hoped to see. Military analysts also said the breach doesn't yet mean a larger breakthrough, with Ukraine needing to go through at least two more defensive lines before the country can reach its goal of reaching the Sea of Azov.3
- Meanwhile, a report suggests that Ukraine's retaking of the village of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region was likely helped by a Russian mercenary group known as Rusich laying down their arms in the area. The group was reportedly protesting the Kremlin's apparent lack of assistance to their leader, Yan Petrovsky, who was arrested in Finland and faces possible extradition to Ukraine.4
- Russia has meanwhile launched its own counteroffensive push in the Kharkiv region further north, reportedly moving the front line between Kupiansk and Lyman by around two miles (3.2 km) to the east. Ukraine sent reinforcements and now appears to be holding the line, though the developments appear to spell months of difficult fighting ahead.3
- Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Yahoo News. Although Ukrainian progress has been slow, they are finally making important gains and are going in the right direction. War does not operate in a linear fashion — defenders may be able to hold for a long time, but when the levee breaks, attackers can make swift progress. There's no reason to believe that Ukraine can't do the same.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by The Guardian. While Ukraine is making incremental gains, it is quite clear that it will not succeed in pushing Russia out of all of the four territories it's claimed to have annexed, let alone Crimea which was taken in 2014. Now is the time to formulate an achievable endgame to the war — one that also takes into consideration Russia's point of view, to avoid the conflict from erupting once again.