Your Wednesday briefing: Ukraine’s strategic dilemma

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Hello. We cover Ukraine’s strategic dilemma in the east, Israel’s crushing political crisis and new details about a deadly fire in Bangladesh.

As the Ukrainian military struggles to maintain defensive positions in the Donbass region in the face of relentless Russian bombardment, its military leaders are faced with an impossible choice.

On Monday, President Volodymyr Zelensky called Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk “ghost towns”, almost empty of civilians. Withdrawing forces from frontline cities would save lives: Moscow has surrounded Sievierodonetsk from three sides.

But Sievierodonetsk is Ukraine’s last position in the entire Lugansk region, which is part of Donbass. And Zelensky said Russia could launch “constant missile strikes on central Ukraine” if it took control of Donbass. This could make future attempts to reclaim territory even more costly. Here is live updates.

Ring: Ukraine has said more than 40,000 of its civilians have been killed or injured since the start of the war and around three million live under Russian occupation.

Mariupol: The fate of the Russian-occupied city is close to the minds of Ukrainian leaders. After swearing to fight, about 2,500 fighters eventually had to surrender to Russian custody. Dozens died. Today, sewage systems are broken, corpses rot in the streets and tens of thousands of people have no access to drinking water.

Artillery: Powerful Western weapons systems could already be having an effect in the Black Sea: Ukrainian Navy says Russian warships withdrew more than 70 miles from shore after anti-ship missile systems arrived Harpoon from Denmark.


Israel’s parliament has voted against applying Israeli civil law to Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, a move that could topple the fragile coalition government.

Monday’s decision undermined the two-tier legal system that governs the 61% of the West Bank that is under direct Israeli control. There, Israelis live under civil law, while Palestinians generally live under military law.

Israel first applied the two-tier system after its occupation of the West Bank in 1967, and lawmakers have easily extended it every five years since. The system is at the heart of accusations that Israel operates an apartheid-like system in the West Bank.

Details: The vote fell through due to dissent from left-wing and Arab lawmakers in the coalition – as well as right-wing opposition lawmakers who support Benjamin Netanyahuthe former Prime Minister who is tried for corruptionand see an opportunity to break the current government.

Analysis: If some lawmakers do not change course by the end of June, the move could topple Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government. Analysts say a Netanyahu government would be one of the most right-wing in Israel’s history.

And after: Officials and legal experts said failure to extend the legislation would create “chaos” and disrupt daily life in the West Bank.


Firefighters were unaware there were canisters of chemicals at a shipping container depot in Bangladesh when they responded to a blaze over the weekend, an official said.

The chemicals set off a series of powerful explosions. Nine firefighters were among at least 41 people killed. Hundreds of other people were burned. The depot contained garments ready for export and drums filled with hydrogen peroxide, which is often used to bleach and dye fabrics.

“When our first team arrived here to put out the fire, authorities did not tell them about the chemical inside,” a national fire official said. “If they had said it earlier, there wouldn’t have been so many deaths.”

Background: Bangladesh has suffered several fires and industrial disasters that have claimed many lives in recent years, many of them linked to its garment factories, which account for 80% of the country’s exports.

Industry: Human and labor rights organizations have long expressed concern about working conditions and safety measures in garment factories.

The Monument of Heroes, a museum in the Philippines, is dedicated to preserving the bitter memory of the Marcos regime, when tens of thousands of political prisoners were tortured and detained. Organizers are now scrambling to preserve documents ahead of the dictator’s son taking office on June 30.

In some ways, the book industry is doing better than ever. Last year, readers purchased nearly 827 million books in print, an increase of about 10% from 2020, and the highest since NPD BookScan began tracking two decades ago.

But publishing has an insoluble problem: As book buyers have migrated online, it has become more difficult to sell books by new or lesser-known authors.

Several apps have attempted to replicate the serendipity of walking into a bookstore and flipping through the shelves. A new app, Tertuliawhich debuted this week, tries a different approach.

Instead of relying on polls or trying to promote older titles, Tertulia uses a mix of artificial intelligence and human curation to distill online discussions about books and direct readers to those that feed the discussions. It’s an effort to replicate the word-of-mouth recommendations that once drove sales in brick-and-mortar stores.

“If Tertulia can conjure up the average book talk,” said essayist and novelist Sloane Crosley, who tested the app, “may they reign long.”

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