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Ukraine counteroffensive makes “notable” progress near Zaporizhzhia, but it’s a grinding stalemate elsewhere

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Kyiv — Ukraine’s counteroffensive is grinding on. Video from Ukraine’s Azov battalion showed an early morning assault on Russia’s defensive lines near the town of Bakhmut. The intense, running gun battles there come months after Moscow-backed mercenaries seized control of the eastern city in a hugely symbolic victory.

They took Bakhmut after some of the war’s most brutal fighting, and the ongoing battle around the city, as along much of the hundreds-of-miles-long front line, is bloody and neither side is advancing significantly.

But as Ukraine’s counteroffensive grinds to a stalemate on multiple fronts, the military is starting to make important gains further the southAccording to U.S. officials, there was “notable” progress near the southern city of Zaporizhzhia over the weekend.

ukraine-map.jpg

CIA World Factbook


Kyiv’s aim is to break through Russia’s defenses and march directly south, all the way to the coast on the Sea of Azov. If they manage it, Ukraine would cut off Russia’s land access route to the long-occupied Crimean Peninsula. But Moscow has established long barriers across the terrain, full of minefields, tank traps, miles of trenches and other defenses, and that has been slowing Ukraine’s advance.

The Kremlin’s drone warfare campaign also isn’t slowing down. Early Monday, Moscow launched a 3-and-a-half-hour assault on the Danube River port of Izmail, targeting vital Ukrainian infrastructure. Ukraine’s military said at least 17 of the Russian drones were taken down by air defense systems, but some hit their targets and damaged buildings.

Izmail has become an important transit route for Ukraine’s vast grain exports following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision in July to withdraw from a U.N. and Turkey-brokered export deal that saw the supplies pass safely through the Black Sea for about a year.


Blinken warns Russia to stop using food as weapon of war in Ukraine

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Putin met Monday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as part of efforts to revive the agreement, which saw some 32 million of tons of grain reach global markets through Ukraine’s sea ports and helped to ease a global food crisis, according to the U.N.

But it didn’t appear that any breakthrough was made, with Putin reiterating complaints about the accord, including accusing Western nations of refusing to ease sanctions on Russian banking and insurance services that Moscow says have severely impacted Russia’s own exports and deliveries of agricultural equipment and spare parts.

The restrictions, imposed after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, have also had a major impact on the Russian economy.

Far from the diplomacy — and deep underground — many children were back in school this week in the eastern city of Kharkiv. But life is far from normal in Ukraine’s second largest city. Dozens of improvised classrooms for around 1,000 students have been set up in a local subway station.

“We are trying to do everything possible for our children not to feel this war,” said the school’s director, Ludmyla Usichenko. “We are trying to create a safe environment for them.”

As Ukraine’s brutal war drags into its 18th month, even educating children means making concessions.



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How Biden’s decision to end campaign measures historically

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How Biden’s decision to end campaign measures historically – CBS News


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President Biden’s decision to end his reelection campaign is a historic one for many reasons. CBS News’ Robert Costa has more on that.

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Kamala Harris says she intends to “earn and win” Democratic presidential nomination

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Washington — Vice President Kamala Harris said Sunday that she intends to “earn and win” the Democratic presidential nomination after President Biden announced he would be bowing out of the 2024 presidential race and endorsed her for Democratic presidential nominee.

“I am honored to have the president’s endorsement and my intention is to earn and win this nomination,” she said in a statement. “Over the past year, I have traveled across the country, talking with Americans about the clear choice in this momentous election. And that is what I will continue to do in the days and weeks ahead. I will do everything in my power to unite the Democratic Party — and unite our nation — to defeat Donald Trump and his extreme Project 2025 agenda.”

Harris also praised Mr. Biden for his career in public service and said his “remarkable legacy of accomplishment is unmatched in modern American history, surpassing the legacy of many presidents who have served two terms in office.”

“With this selfless and patriotic act, President Biden is doing what he has done throughout his life of service: putting the American people and our country above everything else,” she said.

President Biden Spends Fourth Of July At The White House
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris join hands in the air as they view the fireworks on the National Mall with First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff from the White House balcony during a 4th of July event on the South Lawn of the White House on July 4, 2024 in Washington, DC. 

Samuel Corum / Getty Images


Mr. Biden announced his decision to end his reelection bid in a letter to the American people posted to social media, writing that he believes it’s in the best interest of the Democratic Party and the country to focus on fulfilling his duties as president for the rest of the term. The president then threw his support behind Harris.

“Democrats — it’s time to come together and beat Trump,” he said on social media. “Let’s do this.”

Mr. Biden was quickly joined by other well-known Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Patty Murray, the highest-ranking woman in the upper chamber, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who announced their support for Harris.

Mr. Biden’s future in the presidential race became unclear following his rocky debate performance last month, which sparked calls from dozens of Democrats for him to step aside. Amid the questions about his fitness for a second term and whether he could defeat former President Donald Trump in November, Harris emerged as the leading contender to replace the president at the top of the Democratic ticket.

Mr. Biden’s decision to step aside comes ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which kicks off Aug. 19. The party will formally select their nominees for president and vice president at the gathering. 

Harris served as a senator from California before she was elected vice president, becoming the first woman, first Black American and first South Asian American to hold the role.

She has spent the last week on the campaign trail, appearing alongside Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and making stops in Massachusetts, Michigan and North Carolina.



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Democrats line up behind Kamala Harris after Biden drops reelection bid

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Leading Democrats are voicing their support for Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday as their party seeks a nominee to replace President Biden in the 2024 race, now that he has taken himself out of the running

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among the pool of politicians to endorse Harris, after Mr. Biden did the same on the heels of an announcement confirming his decision to withdraw. 

“We join millions of Americans in thanking President Biden for all he has accomplished, standing up for America time and again, with his North Star always being what’s best for the country. We are honored to join the President in endorsing Vice President Harris and will do whatever we can to support her,” the Clintons said in a joint statement

“We’ve lived through many ups and downs, but nothing has made us more worried for our country than the threat posed by a second Trump term. He has promised to be a dictator on day one, and the recent ruling by his service Supreme Court will only embolden him to further shred the Constitution,” their statement continued. “Now is the time to support Kamala Harris and fight with everything we’ve got to elect her. America’s future depends on it.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who led a presidential campaign of her own in 2020, also issued a statement backing Harris as the party’s potential nominee this year.

“I endorse Kamala Harris for President,” Warren’s statement read. “She is a proven fighter who has been a national leader in safeguarding consumers and protecting access to abortion. As a former prosecutor, she can press a forceful case against allowing Donald Trump to regain the White House. We have many talented people in our party, but Vice President Harris is the person who was chosen by the voters to succeed Joe Biden if needed. She can unite our party, take on Donald Trump, and win in November.”

Mr. Biden’s decision to end his campaign followed weeks of turmoil within the Democratic Party over whether he would be able to serve another term, since his disastrous performance at the presidential debate in June opposite his Republican rival, former President Donald Trump, called into question his fitness to lead. He endorsed Harris shortly after issuing a statement on Sunday afternoon that confirmed, despite previous pushback from Mr. Biden’s campaign team against public calls for him to step aside, that he is no longer pursuing reelection. 

“My very first decision as the party nominee in 2020 was to pick Kamala Harris as my Vice President,” Mr. Biden said a social media post. “And it’s been the best decision I’ve made. Today I want to offer my full support and endorsement for Kamala to be the nominee of our party this year. Democrats — it’s time to come together and beat Trump. Let’s do this.” 

Sen. Patty Murray, of Washington, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, have also endorsed Harris. Other powerful Democratic figures, like former President Barrack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, commended Mr. Biden in the wake of the withdrawal but did not endorse Harris outright. Obama released a lengthy statement responding to the announcement, in which he praised the president — his former vice president — as “a patriot of the highest order” and “one of America’s most consequential presidents.”

Mr. Biden cannot appoint a Democratic nominee to fill his spot in the presidential race. Whoever is ultimately chosen will be determined through a vote by the delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which was set to happen virtually before next month. It isn’t clear whether those plans will change in light of Mr. Biden leaving the race, but the convention is scheduled to begin Aug. 19.





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