- G-7 Latest: Oil-Price Cap in Focus as Zelenskiy Addresses Summit
- Dazzling Mountain Views Can’t Hide Darker Mood Among G-7 Leaders
- US Resuscitates Bid at G-7 to Counter China’s Belt and Road
- Ban on New Gold Imports From Russia Seen as ‘Largely Symbolic’
- Follow our latest coverage of the G-7 summit here.
Russia defaults | For the first time since Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks repudiated its Czarist-era debt in 1918, Russia has defaulted on foreign creditors. The grace period on about $100 million of interest payments expired yesterday as Western sanctions have shut down payment routes to creditors. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov says Russia has the means and will to pay, calling the situation a “farce.”
- Follow our rolling coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine here.
Dwindling protests | A fraction of the demonstrators who poured out after the US Supreme Court’s vote to overturn the constitutional right to abortion on Friday returned for a third day of protests in Washington. A hard core of demonstrators sang and chanted against the decision in stifling heat yesterday, while only a handful appeared to support the ruling.
- Back-to-back rulings on guns and abortion removed any doubt the Court will be the transformational force Republicans envisioned when they filled three vacancies during Donald Trump’s presidency.
- Thousands packed the streets of cities around the country to support the LGBTQ community, determined to protect hard-won rights amid concern they’re suddenly under threat.
- From Amazon to Google, major companies are pledging to cover travel expenses for employees in states where abortion is being banned.
Talking again | Tehran said talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers will resume this week. Its Foreign Ministry commented after the European Union said over the weekend that indirect negotiations between the US and Iran would restart soon following months of stalemate.
Geneva remains a “hotspot” for international espionage and the number of Russian agents operating there could grow from “several dozen” currently, Switzerland’s intelligence service said.
War crime | Dozens are still missing after Russian missiles struck a shopping mall in central Ukraine yesterday, killing at least 18 people. G-7 leaders condemned the “abominable” attack as a war crime, and said that those responsible, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, would be held accountable.
NATO focus | NATO leaders are set to label China a “systemic challenge” when they meet in Madrid this week, highlighting concerns in areas like cybersecurity and disinformation plus control of critical infrastructure. The China reference will be made in the alliance’s new policy guidelines outlining priorities for the coming decade.
The three Baltic states’ position on NATO’s border with Russia has kept them in a heightened sense of alert following Moscow’s war in Georgia and its subsequent annexation of Crimea. Ott Tammik, Milda Seputyte and Aaron Eglitis lay out in this story how the people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have long and bitter memories of domination by Moscow that is driving them to the front line of the response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Iran talks | Chief US and Iranian nuclear negotiators are heading to Qatar in an attempt to revive the 2015 nuclear deal and end a standoff that has inflamed tensions in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. Both sides put the onus on the other to make concessions to reach an agreement, which would curb Iran’s atomic activities in return for the lifting of sanctions, including on oil exports.
More than 40 people were found dead in a semitrailer parked in San Antonio in Texas as temperatures soar, and the mayor suggested they were immigrants. Texas has seen a surge in immigration over its border with Mexico in recent years, and smugglers sometimes use commercial trucks.
Trump in focus | Vivid testimony by a former White House aide to the US congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection described former President Donald Trump as indifferent to the unfolding violence as rioters stormed the US Capitol. Cassidy Hutchinson said lawyers urged Trump to tone down the language in his speech to a rally because of legal concerns but ultimately he refused to do so.
- The lawyer for Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, says there is “no sufficient basis” yet for her to testify to the committee about her alleged involvement in plans to overturn the 2020 election.
Philippine news website Rappler is again facing the possibility of a shutdown, after the Securities and Exchange Commission stood by its decision to revoke the site’s license to operate.
Bulking up | As well as moving to add new members Finland and Sweden, NATO leaders meeting in Madrid agreed to put more than 300,000 troops on high alert and to beef up European defenses with new equipment, including two additional squadrons of US F-35 stealth fighters. The response to Russia’s aggression amounts to the biggest upgrade of the alliance’s military presence in Europe since the end of the Cold War.
- Russia confirmed it withdrew troops from Ukraine’s Snake Island in the Black Sea after Ukrainian forces said they had pulled out under massive attack.
- Follow our latest coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine here.
Marcos returns | Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the late Philippine dictator’s son, was sworn in as the country’s president today, completing his family’s political revival nearly four decades after his father’s ouster. The former senator returns to the presidential palace where he spent his youth after winning last month’s election by a landslide with a campaign that promised unity and measures to spur the economy.
Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso adopted a tougher stance against protests that have hobbled much of the economy for more than two weeks, after he beat back an impeachment attempt.
While he was a decent sports reporter, Bobomurod Abdullayev excelled as a politics blogger. For most of the past two decades, Abdullayev kept this second job a secret from even his wife and kids. Under his own name, he wrote soccer columns and posted YouTube videos of himself singing folk songs. But when he clicked over to a different tab, he became Usman Haqnazarov. Read Matthew Bremner’s report on the whistleblower who shook Uzbekistan.
- China’s Xi Defends Hong Kong Crackdown, Promotes Development
- Hong Kong Crackdown Leaders Rewarded in New Cabinet Lineup
- China’s Xi Declares Hong Kong Is ‘Reborn’ After Overcoming Risks
- Hong Kong Chief Carrie Lam’s Turbulent Tenure in 10 Key Moments
- Xi’s Tightening Grip on Hong Kong Ushers in New Era of Doubt
Hong Kong has systematically jailed democracy advocates over the past three years. Chinese officials regularly push the narrative that Hong Kong’s residents were simply upset about inequality and exploited by foreigners rather than genuinely pushing for democracy.
Odesa deaths | Russian missiles hit an apartment building and a recreation center near Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa today, killing 18 people. The attack came a day after Russia said its forces left the nearby strategic Snake Island, a retreat hailed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Kremlin troops are closing in on Lysychansk, Ukraine’s last major foothold in the eastern Luhansk region, where the governor described the situation as “extremely difficult.”
Crude return | Russia’s oil output is edging back toward pre-war levels, helped by a revival among domestic refineries that were initially hit hard by sanctions. The disruption contributed to a 50% jump in crude prices this year. Russia’s ability to sell oil may determine whether it can keep prosecuting the war despite efforts to isolate Moscow economically.
- President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to transfer rights to the Sakhalin-2 natural gas project to a new Russian company, a move that could force foreign owners including Shell to abandon their investment in the facility before they have a chance to sell it.
Home troubles | President Joe Biden left Europe upbeat over NATO’s expansion in reaction to Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, but he returned to the US facing a host of domestic problems — principally the Supreme Court’s decision to end nationwide abortion rights. In a seeming acknowledgment of his challenges, Biden joked Wednesday, while meeting Spanish King Felipe VI, that “we may not go back” to the US.
- Republican Senator Pat Toomey said yesterday the congressional committee investigation of the attack on the Capitol has damaged former President Donald Trump’s chances of winning back the White House in 2024.
- Biden’s climate-change agenda suffered a major blow when the Supreme Court restricted the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to curb power-plant emissions.
- Representatives of indigenous organizations and Ecuador’s embattled government signed an agreement yesterday to end more than two weeks of nationwide protests over fuel prices and the high cost of living.
- North Korea blamed its Covid-19 outbreak on “alien things” likely sent by balloon across its border with South Korea, saying a teenage soldier and a five-year-old girl in April were the first people in the country infected by the coronavirus.
NATO Returns to Combat Stance to Counter a New and Hostile World
NATO agreed to the biggest upgrade of its military presence in Europe since the end of the Cold War, redrawing the continent’s security in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Natalia Drozdiak reports on the summit in Madrid where alliance leaders agreed to put more than 300,000 troops on high alert and beef up its European defenses with extra forces.
- NATO leaders formally invited Sweden and Finland to join the military alliance, paving the way for reshaping European defense by lengthening its border with Russia.
Supreme Court’s Term Ends With Guns, Roe and Protests
The US Supreme Court moved boldly in its first full term with three Donald Trump appointees with far-reaching rulings on guns, religion and federal regulatory power along with a historic decision that eliminated the constitutional right to abortion. As Greg Stohr explains, its sweeping rulings are likely to reverberate for decades.
- Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as the first Black woman to serve on the court.
Trump’s 2024 Prospects Dented by Jan. 6 Probe, GOP’s Toomey Says
Republican Senator Pat Toomey told Bloomberg Television that the House committee investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol has damaged Trump’s chances of winning back the White House in 2024. Steven T. Dennis provides the details on what he said in the interview.
Hutchinson, a former assistant to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified on Tuesday to the committee on the Capitol riot, providing a front-row seat into the workings of Trump’s inner circle during the attack and days beforehand.
Soviet Terror Made Sacrifice Second Nature for Baltics
The three Baltic states’ position on NATO’s border with Russia has kept them in a heightened sense of alert. Ott Tammik, Milda Seputyte and Aaron Eglitis explain how the people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have long and bitter memories of domination by Moscow that are driving them to the front line of the response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine unveils a massive postwar rebuilding program today just as Russian President Vladimir Putin marks the first real strategic success of his invasion. The developments may amount to a recipe for endless war.
The withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the city of Lysychansk means Russia seized the last urban stronghold in the Luhansk region, moving Putin closer to capturing the whole province. Russian forces may now concentrate fire on the neighboring Donetsk region to try to cement control of Ukraine’s east.
- Ukraine Loses Its Final Eastern Stronghold in Luhansk Region
- Ukraine to Unveil Massive Rebuilding Plan Even as War Drags On
- US Envoy to Beijing Urges China to Stop Spreading Russian ‘Lies’
- German Regulator Fears Breakdown of Russian Gas Deliverie
- Follow our latest coverage of Russia’s war in Ukraine here
The reconstruction plan outlined at a conference in Switzerland may cost more than $500 billion. The bulk of the funding is likely to come via the European Union which has just accepted Ukraine as a membership candidate and will seek to rally global donors to help finance Kyiv, a challenging proposition in the current security environment.
It underscores the scale of the task of keeping Ukraine’s war-battered economy afloat, while oil and gas revenues continue pouring into the Kremlin’s coffers. The economic damage is rising for Europe, too, as Russia turns the gas-supply screw in retaliation for sanctions.
A Kremlin disinformation campaign blaming Western sanctions instead of Russian blockades of Ukrainian grain for increasing the risk of famine in Africa is fueling alarm in European capitals. The public-relations onslaught shows how the war in Ukraine is becoming a global propaganda battle as food, fuel and crop-nutrient prices surge.
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