Monday, September 12, 2022
Cameron Hood, Newsletter EditorCameron Hood
Newsletter Editor
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Ukraine rout in Kharkiv has Russians on the run: How did they pull it off, and what comes next?

“In recent weeks, a couple of assumptions have prevailed in much of the outside analysis of the war in Ukraine,” Global Security Reporter Joshua Keating writes. “One was that the conflict was settling into a slow, grinding war of attrition, in which major maneuvers would be rare and success would be measured in the ability to replace troops and equipment rather than gains in territory. The other was that Ukraine’s best chance to break out of this near-stalemate was with a long-anticipated offensive in the south of the country, in the area around the Russian-held city of Kherson.” 

But over the past week, “these assumptions have been turned on their head,” he notes.
Ukrainian forces have won back some 3,000 square kilometers of territory from Russian control in only six days, including the strategic supply hubs of Izyum and Kupiansk in northeastern Ukraine. And footage of Russian troops fleeing the advance and Ukrainian “civilians celebrating in recaptured towns have stunned military experts, Kremlin supporters, and perhaps some Ukrainians themselves.” 

And in Russia, the tone on state television, in official statements and on social platforms has shifted, Stanislav Kucher reports. Notably, people are now calling the war a war. More Russians are now openly saying vojna (война), or “war,” instead of calling it a “special military operation” (spetsial’naya voennaya operatsiya)  – which has been a crime since early on in the conflict.  

Over the weekend, the Russian Ministry of Defense
framed a hasty pullback from the Kharkiv region as a “planned and pre-organized regrouping of troops,” and state TV anchor Dmitry Kiselyov called last week “probably one of the most difficult” as Russian forces withdrew “under the onslaught of superior enemy forces” – “an unprecedented acknowledgment of Russian failing” for Kiselyov, Stanislav writes. 

❗️Learn more about
Ukraine’s swift offensive and the reaction in Russia

Related stories to read 

Have a question for us about the day’s news? Let us know – and we might answer it in a future newsletter. 📩


Millions of people under lockdown for 1,100 cases. When will China’s zero-covid policy end?

China’s strict zero-covid lockdown strategy has been effective in limiting the number of cases and deaths compared to many other countries. But it’s also kept people across the country confined to their apartments in areas with comparatively small numbers of cases – and even during an earthquake, as Lili Pike reports.  

This was “just the latest example of the extremes that officials and healthcare workers have gone to under China’s zero-covid policy, which aims to eradicate all infections through mass testing and lockdowns,” Lili writes. The city of Chengdu, home to 21 million people, was locked down after authorities identified 156 cases there. As of last week,
some 300 million people in 49 cities across China were subject to some kind of lockdown measure, she reports – though the average daily case load nationwide was under 3,000. 

Will China relax this notoriously strict policy? And where does Chinese public opinion stand?  

Read Lili’s full report


💠 Today’s recommended read: King Charles III is the new monarch of the United Kingdom – and he’s also a “climate change king,” Dave Levitan writes. Charles “has long been known as an environmentalist — talking and writing about nature and conservation decades before it became more mainstream, and giving speeches at U.N. climate meetings, urging the world to act.” But in practice, he’ll have limited influence on the U.K.’s climate and energy policy – it’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss who will have the real decision-making power, especially as Britain faces a building energy crisis. Read more about this dynamic and the energy crisis. ⚡️

Interested in more context on the crown and the royal family? 👑

💠  Could falling gas prices and the overturning of Roe v. Wade be “the perfect storm” for Democrats in the upcoming midterms? Prices at the pump and the Dobbs decision have “synced up in the most optimal way imaginable for Democrats,” a Republican lobbyist told Grid. Read Matt Zeitlin’s report into what’s changed, and what might be next


More than 48,000 Americans died by gun violence in 2021, according to provisional data from the CDC – marking an 8 percent increase from a prior uptick in 2020 and passing the previous high rate from back in 1993. How did firearms deaths reach this decades-high point, and what has been driving this tragic trend in the U.S.? 
📈 See Matt Stiles
report and data visualizations.

👋 Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow. –Cameron

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Lillian Barkley also contributed to this edition of Grid Today.
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