Human stories from the frontlines of the battle for democracy.
With a team headquartered in Kyiv, our goal is to tell the personal stories of people threatened by authoritarianism — in Ukraine, and occasionally elsewhere in the world.
We cover these places not merely as sites of conflict, but regions with deep historical, cultural, linguistic and culinary traditions that are worth exploring. We aim to provide a more holistic approach to war correspondence.
Much of the news coverage nowadays focuses on human beings as merely a force that war and violence act upon, rather than individuals with profound backgrounds that happen to be in the news.
Our journalism puts human stories front and center.
We won't just tell you what happened today – we'll tell you about the people who experienced it, and explore more deeply what their lives are like.
Empathy and autocracy can't coexist. We believe that when the stories of those oppressed by dictatorship are told in a compelling way, readers will find that the injustice of it all demands change, requires righting, insists upon justice. That’s the theme of our publication.
The Counteroffensive was launched in the spring of 2023, ahead of the much-anticipated Ukrainian campaign that season. It draws from that moment a determination and hopefulness about the progress a free people can achieve – and uses that inspiration as journalistic fuel.
The name of our publication is meant to signify a broader campaign: against apathy, cynicism and ignorance about world events in general and the emergence of a new Cold War in particular. Join us!
Hi, I'm Tim!
I used to be an investigative correspondent for NPR, and I am also a former U.S. Army combat medic.
My writing has been featured in Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, The Daily Beast, Politico Magazine, and the L.A. Times. And you may have heard me regularly on NPR's Morning Edition or All Things Considered. I'm also the author of a book about the inner workings of the NRA, titled 'Misfire.'
Ukraine War Correspondence on Substack
On February 23rd, 2022, I landed in Kyiv for an assignment to cover a possible war – and, by chance, the Russian invasion of Ukraine began that same night.
Since then, I’ve been providing regular updates for readers: deeply reported vignettes about real life during the war, combined with painstaking investigative reporting in the public interest.
I’ve tracked down the notorious Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade — known for its role in shooting down MH17 and deaths of hundreds of innocent people. I spent ten months investigating a single war crime — the killing of a man on the side of the road in a small town called Nova Basan.
My daily news coverage included stories about a jazz club in Odesa that refused to close; Syrian doctors who visited Ukraine to share lessons from their own conflict; and the alcohol bans in the early months of the war.
War reporting is dangerous and expensive.
Readers can't do anything about the danger, but they can help us purchase the gear we need to mitigate risk. And they can help us not go into crushing debt in order to bring this critical news to the public.
Your support buys us what we need to report: body armor, medical kits, car rentals, recording equipment, and emergency supplies. And it’s not just gear – hiring my Ukrainian interpreter Ross costs thousands of dollars a month.
For $8 per month – less than a bottle of Sriracha! Or a bowl of pho! – you can be a supporter of regular reporting on the war in Ukraine – and fight against the instincts of many to turn away from the horrors of the conflict.
The Counteroffensive with Tim Mak is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
What you get!
You get something powerful in return: reporting that serves a public interest mission, writing that engages and educates.
Readers will come with me to cities all across Ukraine, tasting the soups made by Ukrainian cooks, meeting the heroic animal shelter volunteers in frontline cities, and listening to patriotic Ukrainian music that’s making a comeback.
You will also experience the cruelties of war: walking through bombed out cities with Ukrainian soldiers; late-night conversations in a bomb shelter with a four-star general; observing war crimes that the Russian military and Putin are responsible for.
This will all be combined with tenacious reporting about the battlefield situation, alternating between the forty-thousand-foot view of brigades and divisions, and the fascinating minutiae of how troops are faring on a human level.
And of course, the regular #DogsofWar updates!