Ukrainian fighters driving Kyiv’s counteroffensive operations are making “small advances” in several areas, including the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions and around Bakhmut, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Sunday, noting that both sides are experiencing high casualties.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Beijing Sunday for two days of high-stakes meetings. During his visit, Blinken will continue to reiterate the U.S. expectation that China not provide lethal aid to Russia, officials speaking on background to discuss sensitive diplomatic planning said Sunday. Beijing secretly approved such aid to Moscow earlier this year and planned to disguise military equipment as civilian items, according to a U.S. intercept of Russian intelligence revealed in leaked secret documents.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Russia aims to defeat counteroffensive with mines, artillery and aviation: The initial days of Ukraine’s counteroffensive may have yielded minor gains, but Russia has used the past seven months, Mary Ilyushina reports, to shore up its reserves and ammunition and gather more drones. Its forces have fortified the 900-mile front line, stretching from Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine’s southeast to Russia’s Belgorod region, just over the border.

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While Russia’s defense has weaknesses, military experts said, it is likely to slow down and impede Ukraine’s plans. “They’ve had months to create a defensive plan, they’ve dug in and used the terrain, they’ve been sitting there for six months laying little traps and mines,” said Dara Massicot, an expert on the Russian military at Rand Corp. “They feel as confident as they are probably going to feel that they understand their defensive lines.”

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