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Thousands of reinforcements poured into the two-month battle in the nation’s southeast, many of them trained and equipped by the West and, until now, held in reserve. “This is the big test,” one senior U.S. official said.

Russian officials also reported a “massive” assault south of Orikhiv, a town that Ukraine holds about 60 miles north of the Sea of Azov, with about 100 armored vehicles.

The goal of the expanded forces is to sever the so-called land bridge between Russian-occupied Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula, or to at least advance far enough to put the strategically important peninsula within range of Ukrainian artillery.

The new operation, if successful, could take one to three weeks, Ukrainian officials have told officials in Washington.

Strategy: U.S. officials described a three-point rationale for the push. Ukrainian forces have been making progress clearing through Russian minefields and fortifications, and they sensed an opportunity with the sacking of the regional Russian commander.

And Ukrainian artillery barrages have been attacking well behind the front lines, creating a vulnerability to exploit if forces were to break through Russian defenses. “The Russians are stretched,” a Western official said yesterday.

War crimes: President Biden has quietly ordered the U.S. government to share evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine with the International Criminal Court. The Pentagon had resisted, arguing that doing so could set a precedent for the court to prosecute U.S. troops.

Energy: With Europe cut off from Russian gas, Chevron thinks its Israeli operations can turn the eastern Mediterranean into one of the world’s last petroleum hubs.

Sinead O’Connor, the Irish singer-songwriter known for her powerful voice and political provocations, has died at 56, her family announced in a statement, without providing details.

O’Connor broke out with her second album, “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.” It won a Grammy Award in 1991, although O’Connor boycotted the ceremony over what she called the show’s excessive commercialism.

In 1992, on an episode of “Saturday Night Live,” O’Connor tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II to protest sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. The vitriol directed at her was pervasive, and she had only one more major hit in the U.S.

She said that the experience was traumatizing, but she wasn’t sorry. “I feel that having a No. 1 record derailed my career,” she wrote, “and my tearing the photo put me back on the right track.”

Israel’s Supreme Court said that it would review a contentious new law that diminishes the court’s own role, setting the stage for a constitutional crisis. The court did not issue an injunction barring the law from coming into effect, as some opponents had hoped, and will take the case in September.

If the court rejects the law, the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his right-wing coalition may refuse to abide by the ruling, forcing senior civil servants and lower courts to decide which branch of government to obey. If the law stands, hard-liners may see a green light for the government to do as it wishes.

Analysis: In a 2021 ruling, the court did rule that Parliament could not pass Basic Laws, Israel’s equivalent of constitutional laws, that gravely violated Israel’s Jewish or democratic character. That precedent might allow the court to overturn the law passed on Monday, a constitutional scholar told The Times.

Shinjiro Atae, a J-pop idol, has been on a nearly two-year performance hiatus. Standing onstage in a dark auditorium before 2,000 fans in central Tokyo on Wednesday night, he revealed something he has kept hidden for most of his life in a conservative society: He is gay.

Striker shopping for Manchester United: A look at the realistic attacking options available to Erik ten Hag this summer.

The mysterious “horse placenta doctor”: The story of how injured athletes turned to an unorthodox healing method.

Netherlands critical of World Cup training facilities: We visit the team’s base in Tauranga, New Zealand, to see if the judgment is justified.

This month, Blur released “The Ballad of Darren,” the group’s first album in eight years, and played two sold-out shows at London’s Wembley Stadium. Pulp, another Britpop mainstay, has also re-formed for a major tour. The comebacks have received euphoric reviews — but neither British nor global news media are portraying Britain as the musical place to be.

Instead, news articles about the country’s music scene are more likely to touch on venues shuttering — at a rate of one a week this year. Bands, D.J.s and rappers have struggled to tour abroad after Brexit brought in a tangle of red tape. Local news outlets have lamented the British government’s cuts to arts funding and warned about the decline of music teaching in schools.

The challenges facing the country’s pipeline of musical stars were clear, Blur’s lead singer, Damon Albarn, said: “The soul of the nation is in danger, if you want to get dramatic about it.”


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