Your Wednesday Briefing: Biden’s Re-Election Bid

In a video message, President Biden formally kicked off his campaign for the 2024 presidential race, urging voters to let him “finish this job.”

His announcement did not mention Donald Trump — his most likely opponent — but the subtext of his messaging was clear: He views himself as the best person to stop Trump from reclaiming the presidency.

At 80, Biden is already the oldest American president in history. (Trump is 76.) Yet he has all but cleared the Democratic presidential field despite concerns about his age. Although polls show that Democrats yearn for a fresh face in 2024, they just don’t know who that would be.

Kamala Harris, his vice president, will probably face scrutiny and intense Republican criticism; she would take over if something happened to Biden, who would be 86 at the end of his tenure.

Despite low unemployment, a resilient economy and an enviable record of legislative accomplishments, Biden has never quite won over the nation, or even voters in his party. Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe the U.S. is on a “wrong track.”

While Republicans plan to play on those uncertainties, harping on Biden’s age and frailty, Democrats insist Biden is far better positioned than his Republican rivals.

The race: Trump is currently the Republican Party’s front-runner but he may face a strong challenge from Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida. Here’s who else is running.

Ukraine is preparing a new offensive against Russian forces that could begin as early as next month, U.S. officials say. The stakes are incredibly high: Without a decisive victory, Western support could weaken and Kyiv could face pressure to hold peace talks.

The operation is likely to unfold in the south, near Russian-annexed Crimea. Twelve Ukrainian brigades, each with about 4,000 troops, are expected to be ready this month, leaked U.S. documents show.

Ukrainian officials have said their goal is to break through dug-in Russian defenses and push Russia’s army to collapse. But American officials believe that it is unlikely the offensive will result in a dramatic shift in momentum in Ukraine’s favor.

U.S. and European officials say Russia is preparing new rounds of troop mobilizations to bolster the ranks of its military. Given Russia’s bigger reserves of equipment and personnel, U.S. intelligence officials say President Vladimir Putin believes he will ultimately emerge victorious as the West’s appetite to support Ukraine subsides.

Quotable: “Everything hinges on this counteroffensive,” said Alexander Vershbow, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia and senior NATO official, both for recovering territory and also having leverage in peace negotiations.

Other updates:

President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea will attend a state dinner hosted by President Biden and the first lady in Washington this week. He will deliver an address to the U.S. Congress. A big focus of Yoon’s visit is South Korea’s relations with Japan.

During talks at the White House, Biden is likely to urge more steps in South Korea’s détente with Japan, which is crucial for the U.S. strategy in Asia.

Both Tokyo and Seoul are moving to align themselves more closely with Washington as China promotes a vision of the world in which the U.S. has less power. North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat was also an incentive for the countries and the U.S.

Seoul and Tokyo have taken steps to address a long dispute over forced labor during World War II. This week, South Korea restored Japan’s status as a preferred trading partner, a month after Tokyo and Seoul agreed to ease export controls. Yoon also said that Japan must no longer be expected to “kneel because of our history 100 years ago.”

Kevon Looney, a U.S. basketball star, said he barely survived his first class of hot yoga. “I did a lot of laying on the mat. I felt like I was a top athlete, but they destroyed me.”

Now Looney, a forward for the Golden State Warriors, practices “Joga,” yoga for jocks, before every game to help him cope with the physical and mental rigors of the N.B.A.

Lives lived: Harry Belafonte smashed racial barriers in the 1950s with his music and was a leader in the civil rights movement. He died at 96.

Ispace, a Japanese company, had aimed to complete the first moon landing by a private company. But yesterday, it lost contact with the small robotic spacecraft it was sending to the moon.

The loss of signal could indicate that the lander, which had Japanese and Emirati robots aboard, crashed into the lunar surface. The spacecraft was launched in December and entered lunar orbit in March.

While the lunar landing attempt by Ispace appears to have had an unsuccessful outcome, it won’t be the last company to try. Two more landers, both made by U.S. companies and funded by NASA, are scheduled to be launched to the moon this year. Two more moon landings by Ispace are also planned.

Add chips to this crunchy tuna sandwich.

In “Baby J,” a Netflix comedy special, John Mulaney talks about addiction and rehab.

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