The Guardian 2024-07-10 08:18:51


Biden promises new air defenses for Ukraine in forceful Nato speech

Critical step for president in convincing foreign leaders he remains up to task of leading 32-member military alliance

Joe Biden has announced that Nato countries will provide Ukraine with five new strategic air defense systems as leaders began a summit in Washington where the alliance was expected to declare Ukraine’s path toward Nato to be “irreversible”.

The promise of weapons deliveries, including anti-air defenses sought after by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, came just a day after a deadly missile strike against a pediatric cancer hospital and other civilian targets in Ukraine that Biden called a “horrific reminder of Russia’s brutality”.

“All told, Ukraine will receive hundreds of additional interceptors over the next year, helping protect Ukrainian cities against Russian missiles and Ukrainian troops facing their attacks on the front lines,” said Biden.

The headline speech was a critical step to convincing foreign leaders that Biden, 81, remains up to the task of leading the 32-member military alliance. It was also a key test in saving his presidential campaign following a disastrous debate against Donald Trump that led many in his own party to question his mental acuity.

In forceful tones, Biden said: “Before this war, Putin thought Nato would break. Today, Nato is stronger than it’s ever been in its history. When this senseless war began, Ukraine was a free country. Today it’s still a free country and the war will end with Ukraine remaining a free and independent country.”

“Russia will not prevail,” he said to rising applause. “Ukraine will prevail.”

It was announced on Tuesday that the US and its European allies would act to bolster Ukraine’s air defences at a time when the country is under constant heavy bombardment from Russia.

The US, Germany and Romania would send additional batteries of the Patriot air defence system while Patriot components donated by the Netherlands would enable another battery to operate, according to a statement by the leaders of the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Romania.

The Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, approved the donation of a Italian-French-made equivalent of the Patriot interceptor, the SAMP/T air defence system.

“These five strategic air defence systems will help to protect Ukrainian cities, civilians, and soldiers, and we are coordinating closely with the Ukrainian government so that these systems can be utilised rapidly,” the statement said. “We are working on a further announcement this year of additional strategic air defence systems for Ukraine.”

As well the medium range Patriot and SAMP/T systems, the US and its allies said they would provide Ukraine with dozens of shorter-range tactical systems, including the US-Norwegian made NASAMS, US-made Hawks, Iris systems made by a European consortium and German Gepard missiles.

Britain’s new prime minister, Keir Starmer, and Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, were among those arriving at the US capital amid a warning that Russia could step up missile strikes on Ukraine this week, repeating a barrage that killed at least 38 on Monday.

Diplomats said that a final communique would likely declare Ukraine’s path to Nato to be “irreversible” and to move control of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, the main conduit for delivering military aid and training to Ukraine, under Nato control.

Those steps are widely seen as an attempt to “Trump-proof” Nato policies from the potential for a new Republican administration to cut aid to Ukraine, or possibly to make it contingent on holding direct negotiations with Russia.

But otherwise there will be no meaningful progress on Ukraine joining Nato in Washington, although alliance members will seek to dress up the latest package of support as part of what is described as “a bridge to membership”.

Holdouts including the US, Hungary, Germany and Italy are concerned that allowing Ukraine to join Nato while the war with Russia continues would be considered an escalation that could bring the alliance into direct conflict with Moscow. Even a more limited form of what could be considered direct military intervention in support of Kyiv attracts similar concerns.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s outgoing secretary general, speaking immediately before Biden, sought to justify continued US and western support for Ukraine by arguing that “the biggest cost and the greatest risk will be if Russia wins in Ukraine”. Authoritarian leaders in China, North Korea and Iran would all feel emboldened if Russia conquered its neighbour, he added, describing the war as a struggle over values.

“They all support Russia’s brutal war. They all want Nato to fail. So the outcome of this war will shape global security for decades to come. The time to stand for freedom and democracy is now the place is Ukraine,” the Nato chief added. Biden subsequently awarded Stoltenberg, the presidential medal of freedom, the highest civilian honour in the US.

In remarks to the Guardian, Ruslan Stefanchuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, said that the strike on the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital should be a “turning point” in the war and lead to great supplies of anti-air weapons to Ukraine.

“I believe that what happened today must be a turning point to change everyone’s attitude to what is happening in Ukraine, and I believe that without the F-16 fighter jets, without the new air defence systems, without the ammunition for those systems, we won’t be able to cover the skies to defend Ukraine,” he said.

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White House releases more details on Biden’s health after press room shouting match

White House physician clarifies in letter that Biden has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physicals

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The White House clarified on Monday that Joe Biden has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physicals, following a heated exchange between the president’s press secretary and journalists seeking an explanation for why a Parkinson’s disease specialist visited the White House eight times in as many months.

In an evening letter the White House physician, Kevin O’Connor, said the specialist, Kevin Cannard, has been a neurology consultant to the White House medical unit since 2012. He said Cannard had visited multiple times a year since then, and that the neurologist was chosen for his breadth of experience and expertise.

“Seeing patients at the White House is something that Dr Cannard has been doing for a dozen years,” O’Connor wrote. “Dr Cannard was chosen for this responsibility not because he is a movement disorder specialist, but because he is a highly trained and highly regarded neurologist here at Walter Reed and across the Military Health System, with a very wide expertise which makes him flexible to see a variety of patients and problems.”

He added that Cannard was the neurologist who had examined Biden for his three annual physicals since becoming president.

Biden’s last medical examination in February had not shown “any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or ascending lateral sclerosis, nor are there any signs of cervical myelopathy”, O’Connor wrote.

The letter, which O’Connor said he was releasing with the permission of both Biden and Cannard, followed intense speculation about the president’s cognitive powers following last month’s stumbling performance in a debate with Donald Trump in Atlanta, in which he repeatedly appeared confused and lost his train of thought.

It was released after Karine Jean-Pierre, the president’s press secretary, sparred with reporters in the White House briefing room in an exchange during which she asked them for “respect” and declined to confirm Cannard’s name, even though it had already been reported in multiple media outlets.

“There are thousands of military personnel that come to the White House and they are under the care of the medical unit,” she said.

“The president has seen a neurologist three times,” she added, and continued that there were “no findings which would be consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurological disorders such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or ascending lateral sclerosis”.

She said Biden was not being treated or taking medication for Parkinson’s disease.

O’Connor’s letter may not be enough to quell the suspicions over Biden’s health and fitness to serve, amid revelations that he is a former business associate and longtime friend of the president’s family. Politico reported that he introduced Biden’s brother, Jim Biden, to a military-focused medical team in 2017, at a time when he was pursuing a business venture aimed at securing veterans’ affairs contracts, and the president’s sister-in-law, Sara Biden, has also described O’Connor as a friend who has dispensed medical advice to the family.

Jacob Appel, a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York, told Politico that presidential doctors could not necessarily be relied on to disclose the truth about their distinguished patients.

“Presidents’ doctors have deceived the public going back to the early 19th century,” said Appel, who has studied the medical dilemmas of multiple doctors acting for US presidents. “There are plenty of ways of saying something that are factually accurate that don’t convey the full sense of what’s going on.”

Speculation about matters relating to Biden that might not previously have been scrutinized before his poor debate showing has grown, such as the recent disclosure that his staff prepares memos, complete with large print and photos, mapping out his path to the podium for public engagements, though the campaign emphasised that such materials are prepared for all presidents.

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Zelenskiy says world can stop ‘Russian terror’ after attack on Kyiv children’s hospital

Rescue efforts continue after strikes that killed 38 people, as Ukraine president renews call for more air defences

Rescuers have continued to dig through the rubble of a children’s hospital in Kyiv after a wave of devastating Russian missile strikes across the country on Monday that killed 38 people, including four children.

On the eve of a Nato summit in Washington, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, renewed his call for more air defences and said the world had the “necessary strength” to stop what he called “Russian terror”. The US president, Joe Biden, who is expected to meet Zelenskiy, described the strike as a “horrific reminder of Russia’s brutality”.

Ukraine’s SBU security service said missile fragments recovered from the scene, as well as flight path data, showed Moscow had targeted Okhmatdyt children’s hospital with a Kh-101 cruise missile. It ploughed into a two-storey building, killing a 30-year-old doctor named Svitlana Lukianchuk, a paediatric nephrologist, and the mother of a patient.

The SBU’s chief, Vasyl Maliuk, promised “maximum retribution” against the Russians involved in planning and executing the attacks, which took place in the capital in the middle of the morning, and in the cities of Dnipro and Kryvyi Rih. “A terrorist state is not an abstract concept. There are specific names of murderers. Nothing will save them from justice,” he said.

On Tuesday, volunteers, the fire brigade, police and soldiers continued to sift through a sea of masonry. One wing, home to the hospital’s dialysis unit, was entirely obliterated. Furniture, cuddly toys and desks were piled up on a pavement. Windows in the main building were blown out. The heads of 32 diplomatic missions in Kyiv toured the dust-covered ruins, amid widespread international outrage.

Donations to rebuild the shattered complex have reached £5.7m, Ukrainian media reported.

“We were in the middle of an operation. Our patient was a two-year-old girl,” said Iryna Filimonova, head nurse on the hospital’s urology ward. “There was a huge explosion. We looked at each other and carried on.” Her colleague Liudmyla Puzko said she had sheltered in the corridor, adding: “This was an act of incredible baseness. Children are not guilty of anything.”

The hospital was no longer able to function, Filimonova said. Its 2,000 staff treated children from across Ukraine, with a six-month waiting list for appointments and surgery, she said. On Tuesday, Zelenskiy said all patients had been transferred to other medical institutions. They included children who were being treated for cancer, who took cover in a basement. A maternity hospital nearby was also hit.

Zelenskiy said 190 people had been injured and 64 hospitalised as a result of Monday’s country-wide attacks. “I am grateful to everyone who is rescuing and caring for our people, to everyone involved, and to everyone who is helping,” he wrote on social media, adding: “We continue our work to increase the protection of our cities and communities from Russian terror.”

Kyiv’s mayor, Vitaliy Klitschko, said rescuers on Tuesday found the bodies of two woman buried under the rubble of a residential house. Other local victims were named as 10-year-old Maksym Symaniuk, his nine-year-old younger sister Nastia, and their mother, Zoriana. Makysym was keen on karate, friends said. The family was killed at home in their apartment, the mayor added.

Zelenskiy and other senior Ukrainian officials have expressed frustration at restrictions imposed by the Biden administration on the use of US-supplied weapons at targets inside Russia. The White House in May allowed Kyiv for the first time to attack enemy troops and weapons systems in locations just across the border, in Russia’s Belgorod region, that were used as a staging post for raids into Kharkiv oblast but Ukraine cannot use long-range artillery to take out the Russian military airfields, which took part in Monday’s and other attacks.

Anton Geraschenko, a former adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry, said Putin had ordered the strikes to send a message to western leaders. It told them they were “weak” and said the Nato summit would “not change anything”. It also reinforced the idea Ukraine should capitulate since “nobody will protect you,” he suggested.

Russia’s state media largely ignored the attack on the children’s hospital. There was criticism by Zelenskiy of India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, who met Putin on Monday. Modi appeared to offer a rebuke of sorts, saying that the death of innocent children was painful and terrifying. But he stopped short of criticising Moscow, or blaming it directly.

The Kremlin, meanwhile, claimed a Ukrainian interceptor missile was responsible for the hospital strike, even though video footage clearly shows a Russian Kh-101 missile moments before impact. Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson, said Ukraine was staging “a PR operation steeped in blood” ahead of the Nato summit.

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Ukraine war briefing: Nato summit opens with Patriot pledges

Putin intent on ‘total subjugation’ and wiping Ukraine off the map, says Biden; Russia ‘lacks troops or ammo for major offensive’. What we know on day 868

  • Joe Biden has welcomed Nato member states to a Washington summit warning that “[Vladimir] Putin wants nothing less, nothing less, than Ukraine’s total subjugation … and to wipe Ukraine off the map. Ukraine can and will stop Putin.”

  • Biden announced Nato will provide Ukraine with five new strategic air defence systems, the promise coming just a day after a deadly missile strike against a paediatric cancer hospital and other civilian targets. “All told, Ukraine will receive hundreds of additional interceptors over the next year, helping protect Ukrainian cities against Russian missiles and Ukrainian troops facing their attacks on the frontlines,” said Biden.

  • The US, Germany and Romania will send additional Patriot air defence systems, while Patriot parts donated by the Netherlands will enable another battery to operate, according to a statement by the leaders of the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Romania. The Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, approved the donation of an Italian-French SAMP/T air defence system.

  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, arrived in Washington on Tuesday and said he would “fight” for Nato to strengthen Ukrainian air defences and furnish it with more F-16 fighter jets. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said Nato would announce a new military command in Germany for training and equipping Ukrainian troops and appoint a senior representative in Kyiv.

  • The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, told defence industry leaders in Washington that the leaders would pledge to enable arms makers across Europe and North America to produce more. He said Nato had placed an order for Stinger anti-aircraft missiles worth almost $700m in the name of several member states.

  • Russia lacks the munitions and troops to start a major offensive in Ukraine and to do so would need to secure significantly more ammunition from its suppliers like Iran and North Korea, reporters were told at a Nato briefing on Tuesday. Russia was suffering “very high” losses over small territorial gains, ordering “undermanned, inexperienced units to move into areas to achieve unrealistic objectives”.

  • India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, told Vladimir Putin that the death of innocent children was painful and terrifying, a day after the lethal strike on the children’s hospital in Kyiv. “Whether it is war, conflict or a terrorist attack, any person who believes in humanity, is pained when there is loss of lives,” Modi said. “But even in that, when innocent children are killed, the heart bleeds and that pain is very terrifying.” The deadly hospital strike was likely caused by a direct hit from a Russian missile, said Danielle Bell, UN human rights monitoring head of mission for Ukraine.

  • India’s relationship with Russia gives it an ability to urge Vladimir Putin to end the war with Ukraine, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said in response to Modi’s meeting Putin and his remarks.

  • After rescue operations stretched into a second day at the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital, officials said at least 42 people throughout Ukraine were killed in Monday’s attacks. Zelenskiy said 64 people were hospitalised in the capital, in addition to 28 in Kryvyi Rih and six in Dnipro – both in central Ukraine. It was Russia’s heaviest bombardment of Kyiv in almost four months.

  • The UN nuclear watchdog will hold a special meeting after Ukraine accused Russia of undermining atomic safety by shattering the radiation-equipped children’s hospital, according to a confidential document seen by AFP. Children with cancer are treated at the hospital.

  • Russia has been obliged to chair a UN security council meeting where it was condemned over the hospital strike. France and Ecuador asked for the session, which Russia led as the current holder of the council’s rotating presidency, putting its ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, on the receiving end of the criticism.

  • The US ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told colleagues that they were there “because Russia, a permanent member of the security council, current rotational president of the security council, attacked a children’s hospital … Even uttering that phrase sends a chill down my spine.” The British ambassador, Barbara Woodward, called it “cowardly depravity”. Ecuador’s envoy, José De La Gasca, described it as “particularly intolerable”. Nebenzia dismissed that and other criticisms as “verbal gymnastics” and repeated Russian denials of responsibility for the attack.

  • Ukrainian drones attacked a Russian oil refinery, military airfield, and electricity substation in a joint operation by Kyiv’s security and military intelligence agencies, a security source told Reuters. The source said the attacks hit the Akhtubinsk airfield in Russia’s southern Astrakhan region, an oil refinery in the Volgograd region and an electricity substation in the Rostov region.

  • Russia claimed to have captured the village of Yasnobrodivka in eastern Ukraine near the Russian-held city of Donetsk, according to its defence ministry.

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US Gaza aid pier to be permanently dismantled after operating for just 20 days – reports

Pier, which has delivered the equivalent of a single day’s pre-war land aid deliveries in two months, will reportedly be removed in a few days’ time

A US military pier, built two months ago as a way to bring sea-borne humanitarian aid into Gaza, is to be permanently dismantled within a few days, according to a new report.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that the pier, which has had to be moved repeatedly to avoid bad weather, would be reconnected to the Gaza coastline on Wednesday but would operate for just the next few days before being disassembled by the US army and navy.

The AP quoted unnamed officials as saying that the pier would be put back in place only long enough to move humanitarian supplies which have accumulated in Cyprus and on a floating dock offshore since the pier went out of action on 28 June as a result of weather conditions.

There was no immediate comment from US Central Command or the US Agency for International Development which have operated the maritime aid corridor between Cyprus and Gaza, but aid workers familiar with the project had been predicting for weeks that the pier would not survive beyond July.

The pier scheme, first unveiled by Joe Biden in his State of the Union address in March, was always intended to be a temporary measure to complement the meagre amount of aid being allowed across land crossings by Israel, but US officials told Reuters in June it would last until August or September.

The eastern Mediterranean off the Gaza coast had been choppier in the summer months than had been expected with stormy weather making it necessary to move the pier in and out of position repeatedly.

Since it was first manoeuvred into position on 17 May, the pier has been operational for fewer than 20 days, and for most of those days, aid deliveries were simply unloaded on the beach without being distributed around Gaza because of security concerns.

The World Food Programme (WFP) suspended distribution convoys on 9 June, after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted a hostage rescue operation that saved four Israeli hostages but killed 274 Palestinians. Apart from a day’s operations to clear the backlog of humanitarian assistance on the beach, the WFP has continued to suspend its convoys pending a full security review.

Over its two months in operation, about 8,800 metric tons of aid has been unloaded off the pier, about 500 truckloads, equivalent to a single day of deliveries before the war began.

Critics of the scheme warned that the spectacular $230m project would divert attention from the international effort to pressure Israel to open the land crossings into Gaza, the most efficient means of delivering assistance to the 2.3 million Palestinians trapped in Gaza, more than a quarter of whom are in imminent danger of famine.

Land deliveries have dwindled dramatically since Israel launched an offensive on the southern border city of Rafah in May. According to UN figures, the number of trucks entering Gaza fell from 840 in May, to 756 in June to only 18 so far in July.

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Lamine Yamal’s wonder goal leads Spain past France and into Euro 2024 final

Maybe this is how new empires rise. Out of the ruins of the old, with fresh visions and fresh blood, a supremacy that creates its own logic as it goes, until it begins to feel inevitable. Spain have taken the hardest possible road to Berlin, conquered Italy and Croatia and Germany and now France: their longest winning streak since 2010, a first final since 2012, and perhaps the strongest indication yet that this is a team worth remembering.

Indeed to anoint Spain as worthy finalists is to damn them with crushingly faint praise. In a way they have made this tournament, perhaps even saved it: shown that amid a fatberg of low blocks and tired, malfunctioning attacks it is possible for football to express as well as extinguish. Their women are already world champions and on Sunday the men have a chance to emulate their model: a little craft, a little graft and just a sprinkling of magic.

It was also the night when 16-year-old Lamine Yamal became the youngest goalscorer in the history of this tournament, a triumph not just for his own prodigious talent but for the system that produces him, nurtures him, throws him into a major championship semi-final and trusts him to thrash in a 25-yard thunderbolt. Dani Olmo added the winner on 25 minutes and yet for all their exuberance going forward there was resolve and character here too.

A goal down, in danger of being eaten alive, Spain simply intensified their efforts: a team utterly disdainful of the idea that they could ever be second best. By the end, as they kept the ball to a fiesta of olés, it was painful to see just how devoid of solutions Didier Deschamps’s team had become. The accusations of “defensive” football are probably a little overdone: lads, this is a team built around Kylian Mbappé. More accurately France have simply congealed, got lost, gone stale.

For many of their flimsy disappointments, this should or will be a swansong: N’Golo Kanté, the retiring Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Adrien Rabiot, perhaps even Deschamps himself. There is no grand disgrace or abject surrender to report here. Some things just end. This a squad with talent in abundance, but in need of some new energy, a unifying idea that goes beyond keeping it tight and giving it to Kylian. Contrast the faith invested in Yamine Lamal with the fate of the brilliant 18-year-old midfielder Warren Zaïre-Emery, who Deschamps deemed not worthy of a single minute.

And perhaps posterity will forget just how ominously France started the game, with an early headed goal for Randal Kolo Muani and a 14th-minute yellow card for Spain’s 38-year-old makeshift right-back Jesús Navas, which is exactly what you want when you have to play 76 minutes against Mbappé. So how did Spain turn it around? Over the coming days those five scintillating first-half minutes will be wound and rewound at great length, and yet perhaps the only real conclusion worth drawing is not in terms of tactics but mentality.

This is of course a function of belief, and Luis de la Fuente’s side have this in abundance. But it is also a function of self-assurance, a well-drilled system in which everyone knows everyone else’s jobs. No Robin Le Normand in defence, no problem: Nacho simply slots in and has a monstrous night. No Pedri, no problem: Olmo simply picks up where he left off against Germany.

And if in doubt, get it to the wingers. At which point we should be clear: for all their pace and verve, Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams are not wingers in the traditional, chalk-studded sense. Indeed both goals came when they drifted into the centre, giving their full-back a brief dilemma, narrowing the pitch, sowing confusion. Kolo Muani opened the scoring, set up by Mbappé, a goal that had not been coming. As the famous meme almost has it: call an ambulance. But not for Spain!

Perhaps France reckoned they could simply manage the situation. Sit back, pass it around, maybe hit on the break. And against most teams, this would probably work. Spain, by contrast, relish the challenge of dismantling you. First Olmo, to Álvaro Morata, back to Lamine Yamal, and suddenly the ball was sailing into the top corner: a frankly ridiculous goal and a moment that seemed to overcome him slightly, a reminder that this is still just a child with a child’s feelings, for whom the effects of this abundant gift must just feel quite weird.

Four minutes later, a cross from Navas, cleared indeterminately, and in that moment perhaps Olmo doesn’t exactly know what he wants to do with it. All he knows is that he wants the ball. Brilliant feet, brilliant determination, and an emphatic finish that clipped the heels of Jules Koundé on the way in.

Suddenly, having built a gameplan on letting Spain have the ball, France decided they actually wanted it. Half-time came and went and while there were few extrinsic signs of panic, not much was happening for them either. Spain were still intermittently creating openings of their own: Mike Maignan had to scamper 45 yards out of his goal to tackle a steaming Williams. France went close through the head of Dayot Upamecano, the right foot of Théo Hernandez, Mbappé cutting in from the right.

But even though France pushed and pressed, on the ledger of this night, and this tournament, they can have few complaints. The old empire is bloated and decadent and joyless. A new world is coming.

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Southgate demands England ‘step up’ in Netherlands semi-final at Euro 2024

  • Manager appreciates Dutch are toughest opponents yet
  • Southgate says side are ready for testing atmosphere

Gareth Southgate has conceded that England will need a “step up” in performance against the Netherlands if his team are to secure their place in a first major tournament final away from Wembley.

Speaking before the European championship semi-final tie with the Dutch in Dortmund in west Germany, the England manager said that his team could not expect to win on Wednesday night on current form.

A series of poor performances in the group stage, and a near-death experience against Slovakia in the round of 16 followed by a win on penalties against Switzerland, has provoked heavy criticism of Southgate’s tactics, with even Dutch players describing England’s approach as “defensive”.

Southgate, who was joined by the England captain Harry Kane at a pre-match press conference, said he recognised the frustrations of the fans and pundits but insisted his team was “prepared for anything”.

He said: “We need another step from what we showed in the last game, it’s a step up in quality of opponents and we are ready for that.”

England are looking to achieve back-to-back European finals after losing to Italy at Wembley at Euro 2020. The men’s national team, who won the World Cup at home in 1966, have never appeared in a major tournament final outside England.

Asked how the players were coping with the pressure of the moment, Kane said each player was dealing with the situation in his own way. The Bayern Munich striker said: “I don’t think we speak about it in the dressing room. The ones who have had more experience know what it’s like to play for England in major tournaments. As we’ve been getting better the expectation gets higher and that’s been no different.

“Some will use it in different ways, some will use it as motivation, some will just block it out and focus on what they need to do. Everyone’s different. From a team point of view we know what we need to achieve. We have a really important game, a really tough game we need to be ready for. We’ve prepared for that.”

With up to 75,000 Dutch supporters expected in Dortmund on Wednesday night, England fans are likely to be outnumbered by four to one although the number of fans in the stadium are expected to be similar. In the stands of the Westfalenstadion, the Dutch presence will be most obvious in the famous south terrace which is known as the “Yellow Wall” during Borussia Dortmund games but will become orange on Wednesday night.

Southgate said: “I think our players are used to it. The atmosphere in the stadiums has been great this tournament and it’s added a different feel and intensity to the games. I’m sure our fans will make themselves heard and it will be a colourful occasion. These occasions are why we’re involved in football and we’re looking forward to stepping up.”

The Netherlands will be by far the highest-ranked team – seventh in the world – England have faced after group games with Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia, followed by knockout matches against Slovakia and Switzerland.

The referee for the game, Felix Zwayer, served a six-month ban for his role in a match-fixing scandal in 2006. He has always denied wrongdoing. The England midfielder Jude Bellingham hit out at Zwayer while playing for Dortmund in 2021 after a defeat against Bayern Munich describing him as “a referee that has match-fixed before”. Bellingham was fined €40,000 (£33,800) for his unproven allegation.

Asked about the choice of referee, Southgate would not be drawn into criticising Uefa. He said: “I think everybody knows how I deal with refs, with complete respect for every referee. I know the two guys at Uefa who have been running the refs programme and I think they appreciate the respect we have shown as a team to officials over eight years.

“I think there’s a right way to conduct yourself towards officials and I think that’s very important for the game. So no, I’m not concerned about who the ref is. He will be at a very high standard because that’s the way Uefa make those decisions and the way they monitor games during the tournament. So, for me, it’s not even a consideration.”

After weeks of dismal weather in the west of Germany, the sun was out in Dortmund as fans of England and the Netherlands filled the bars around in the centre of Dortmund. Martin Sauer, head of the organising team for the Euro games in the city, said he was concerned that the sheer number of Dutch fans could overcrowd the fan zones but not by the threat of violence between supporters.

He said: “We are expecting 75,000 Dutch fans. We think there are 16,000 English fans with tickets for the stadium and a small number of English fans without tickets, but not as big as the Dutch number. I think the ticket holder numbers are really equal between those two but non-ticket holders will be the majority from the Netherlands.

“We know that everything is really [tight]. That’s good for a really special atmosphere but it’s also complicated for public transport and for the public viewing and for everybody to find a space where you can where they can watch the game.”

Sauer said there would be a heavy police presence but there were no major security concerns. He said: “Always in every fan group there will be somebody who makes trouble but we are not concerned especially for English fans. We have English fans from club level here regularly in the championship games, and usually it’s no problem.

“They’re very welcome. And we think that the English fans will like the city and will like our bars. The public transport isn’t as big as maybe Berlin or Hamburg or bigger cities in Germany. If you like to use your own feet, it’s really easy to go through the city. If you need public transport, you maybe have to wait some minutes.”

Harvey Brown, 19, a student at Cardiff Metropolitan university, said: “I think it will be well organised here. They are used to Borussia Dortmund Champions League games. They are talking about 75,000 Dutch fans but we hear they will be walking to the stadium from 3.30pm so there hopefully won’t be any problems, especially given how well England fans have behaved so far.”

The new culture secretary, Lisa Nandy, will be at the game as part of a “fact-finding mission” ahead of the staging of Euro 2028 in UK and Ireland.

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Russia issues arrest warrant for Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Alexei Navalny

Two-month detention order imposed on exiled dissident Yulia Navalnaya for participating in ‘extremist’ group

Russia has issued an arrest warrant for Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny and a leading dissident living in exile, imposing a two-month detention order on grounds that she participated in an “extremist” group.

The warrant was issued in absentia by a Moscow court on Tuesday, five months after Navalny died in a Russian Arctic penal colony. Navalnaya held the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, responsible for her husband’s death.

In Russia, the label “extremist” is routinely applied to dissident or independent civic groups by courts, which typically carry out the wishes of the Kremlin in political cases.

Since Navalny’s death, Navalnaya has lived in an undisclosed location outside Russia with the couple’s two children. Writing on the X social media platform on Tuesday she told her supporters not to be distracted by the court order against her, but to focus on the broader campaign against Putin.

“When you write about this, please don’t forget to write the main thing: Vladimir Putin is a murderer and a war criminal,” Navalnaya wrote.

“His place is in prison, and not somewhere in The Hague, in a cosy cell with a TV, but in Russia – in the same (penal) colony and the same 2 by 3 metre cell in which he killed Alexei.”

Navalny was serving a 19-year prison sentence in the Russian Arctic for his leading role in opposition to Putin. In August 2020 he fell violently ill on a Russian internal flight, as a result of poisoning with the nerve agent novichok. He was evacuated to Germany for emergency medical care and recovered. On 17 January 2021, Navalny returned to Russia by plane from Germany and was detained on landing in Moscow.

Three days after Navalny’s death in custody, the 47-year-old Navalnaya took on his mantle of leadership, broadcasting a nine-minute video message vowing to continue his resistance to Putin’s dictatorial rule.

“I will continue Alexei Navalny’s work … I want to live in a free Russia, I want to build a free Russia,” she said in the video. “I call on you to stand with me. To share not only grief and endless pain … I ask you to share with me the rage. The fury, anger, hatred for those who dare to kill our future.”

Navalnaya, an economist, accused the Russian state of poisoning her husband with the nerve agent novichok and hiding his body, blocking access until traces of the poison wore away.

Since taking up the opposition leadership in February, Navalnaya has met a succession of world leaders, including Joe Biden. Last week, a US-based advocacy group, the Human Rights Foundation, named her as its chair, and she said she would use the position to step up the struggle with Putin.

During Russian elections in March this year, Navalnaya called for mass protests against Putin by forming long queues at midday, overwhelming polling stations in a campaign that came to be known as “noon against Putin”.

Navalnaya was a close confidante to her husband and regularly consulted him on his political campaigns and opposition movement. But she is a reluctant public figure and the relentless pressure on the opposition has made it difficult for Navalny’s movement to regain momentum after his death.

Also on Tuesday, the family of Vladimir Kara-Murza, another top critic of Putin, said that he had disappeared in a Russian prison. Supporters said that Kara-Murza, who suffers from complications of poisoning, had last been seen by his lawyers on 2 July. He was reported transferred to a prison hospital on 4 July and has since been held incommunicado. “In the wake of the murder of Alexei Navalny in detention, there are now growing fears that Kara-Murza’s life is in danger,” wrote the Free Russia foundation.

Kara-Murza is serving a 25-year prison sentence for treason and other charges that he has said were motivated by his criticism of Putin. Days after Navalny’s death, Russian journalists warned that Kara-Murza could die if he was held in a Russian prison.

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Russia issues arrest warrant for Yulia Navalnaya, widow of Alexei Navalny

Two-month detention order imposed on exiled dissident Yulia Navalnaya for participating in ‘extremist’ group

Russia has issued an arrest warrant for Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny and a leading dissident living in exile, imposing a two-month detention order on grounds that she participated in an “extremist” group.

The warrant was issued in absentia by a Moscow court on Tuesday, five months after Navalny died in a Russian Arctic penal colony. Navalnaya held the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, responsible for her husband’s death.

In Russia, the label “extremist” is routinely applied to dissident or independent civic groups by courts, which typically carry out the wishes of the Kremlin in political cases.

Since Navalny’s death, Navalnaya has lived in an undisclosed location outside Russia with the couple’s two children. Writing on the X social media platform on Tuesday she told her supporters not to be distracted by the court order against her, but to focus on the broader campaign against Putin.

“When you write about this, please don’t forget to write the main thing: Vladimir Putin is a murderer and a war criminal,” Navalnaya wrote.

“His place is in prison, and not somewhere in The Hague, in a cosy cell with a TV, but in Russia – in the same (penal) colony and the same 2 by 3 metre cell in which he killed Alexei.”

Navalny was serving a 19-year prison sentence in the Russian Arctic for his leading role in opposition to Putin. In August 2020 he fell violently ill on a Russian internal flight, as a result of poisoning with the nerve agent novichok. He was evacuated to Germany for emergency medical care and recovered. On 17 January 2021, Navalny returned to Russia by plane from Germany and was detained on landing in Moscow.

Three days after Navalny’s death in custody, the 47-year-old Navalnaya took on his mantle of leadership, broadcasting a nine-minute video message vowing to continue his resistance to Putin’s dictatorial rule.

“I will continue Alexei Navalny’s work … I want to live in a free Russia, I want to build a free Russia,” she said in the video. “I call on you to stand with me. To share not only grief and endless pain … I ask you to share with me the rage. The fury, anger, hatred for those who dare to kill our future.”

Navalnaya, an economist, accused the Russian state of poisoning her husband with the nerve agent novichok and hiding his body, blocking access until traces of the poison wore away.

Since taking up the opposition leadership in February, Navalnaya has met a succession of world leaders, including Joe Biden. Last week, a US-based advocacy group, the Human Rights Foundation, named her as its chair, and she said she would use the position to step up the struggle with Putin.

During Russian elections in March this year, Navalnaya called for mass protests against Putin by forming long queues at midday, overwhelming polling stations in a campaign that came to be known as “noon against Putin”.

Navalnaya was a close confidante to her husband and regularly consulted him on his political campaigns and opposition movement. But she is a reluctant public figure and the relentless pressure on the opposition has made it difficult for Navalny’s movement to regain momentum after his death.

Also on Tuesday, the family of Vladimir Kara-Murza, another top critic of Putin, said that he had disappeared in a Russian prison. Supporters said that Kara-Murza, who suffers from complications of poisoning, had last been seen by his lawyers on 2 July. He was reported transferred to a prison hospital on 4 July and has since been held incommunicado. “In the wake of the murder of Alexei Navalny in detention, there are now growing fears that Kara-Murza’s life is in danger,” wrote the Free Russia foundation.

Kara-Murza is serving a 25-year prison sentence for treason and other charges that he has said were motivated by his criticism of Putin. Days after Navalny’s death, Russian journalists warned that Kara-Murza could die if he was held in a Russian prison.

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Israeli attack on Gaza City continues as Hamas says ceasefire efforts at risk

New wave of displacement as airstrikes hit northern and central Gaza and IDF says forces engaged in ‘close-quarter combat’

Northern and central Gaza were hit by a second day of heavy Israeli airstrikes on Tuesday, attacks Hamas said threatened to derail new international efforts to broker a ceasefire and hostage release deal.

Residents of Gaza City reported helicopter strikes, explosions and gun battles as Israel expanded its two-week-old offensive in Shuja’iya, an eastern neighbourhood, moving tanks into areas of the city where Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters have regrouped.

More than 50 people had been killed in airstrikes on Gaza City and the central town of Deir al-Balah and surrounding refugee camps in the preceding 24 hours, medics said. A third round of leaflets dropped on several neighbourhoods told residents to evacuate to southern Gaza, leading to a new wave of displacement of people who were unable or unwilling to leave their homes when Israeli troops first entered the city at the end of October. In a statement, the Palestinian Red Crescent said all of its medical clinics in Gaza City had been forced offline.

In Nuseirat camp, near Deir al-Balah, an Israeli airstrike in the early hours of Tuesday on a multistorey building killed 17 people, including 14 children, the Hamas media office said. Neighbours rushed to help medics and emergency workers recover bodies and search for survivors under the rubble.

“They were displaced during the night after Al-Nuseirat camp school was hit … They said they would sleep in the house, fearing for the children, and there was a massacre in the house. They are not safe in the schools nor the houses,” Yasser Abu Hamada, a local resident, told Reuters.

Witnesses said first responders had been unable to reach scores of bodies lying on the streets in Gaza City because of the ongoing fighting. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement that its forces were engaged in “close-quarter combat” in Gaza City and had killed more than 150 militants and destroyed tunnels and explosives in the past week.

The last few days of airstrikes on the blockaded Palestinian territory are some of the fiercest since the war broke out after Hamas attacked southern Israel on 7 October. Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, described the fighting as “the most intense in months”.

The new fighting has unfolded as international mediators make headway in ceasefire negotiations after a major concession from Hamas last week, when the group dropped its insistence on a “complete” ceasefire as a prerequisite for talks.

Mediation efforts led by Egypt, Qatar and the US have since accelerated, with Egyptian media reporting that talks are due to continue in Doha and Cairo this week, attended by the CIA director, William Burns, and Israel’s Mossad chief, David Barnea. “There is an agreement over many points,” a senior source told al-Qahera news on Tuesday.

But speaking on Monday night, the group’s Qatar-based political chief, Ismail Haniyeh, said that the “catastrophic consequences” of the latest battles on the ground in Gaza could “reset the negotiation process to square one”. The group has also accused Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, of deliberately trying to thwart the truce talks.

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Rudy Giuliani is treating his bankruptcy case like a ‘joke’, creditors say

Filing opposes Trump ally’s attempt to change his chapter 11 bankruptcy into a chapter seven liquidation of assets

The former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is treating his bankruptcy case as a “joke”, lawyers for the Donald Trump ally’s creditors said in a new filing, alleging the former president’s sometime attorney was attempting to avoid accountability by “hiding behind the facade of an elderly, doddering man”.

“Since day one,” attorneys said, “Giuliani has regarded this case and the bankruptcy process as a joke, hiding behind the facade of an elderly, doddering man who cannot even remember the address for his second multimillion-dollar home and claims impending homelessness if he must sell that second multimillion-dollar home.

“In reality, Giuliani has treated this court, the bankruptcy process and the committee … with utter disrespect and without accountability.”

Giuliani, 80, led New York through the 9/11 terrorist attacks, made millions once out of office and ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. But he has suffered a precipitous fall.

The former mayor faces legal and financial jeopardy on multiple fronts, mostly arising from his central role in Trump’s attempt to overturn his conclusive defeat by Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Indicted on charges related to attempted election subversion in Arizona and Georgia, Giuliani has pleaded not guilty.

He filed for bankruptcy protection last December after two Georgia election workers won a $148m defamation verdict against him.

The new filing in US bankruptcy court in the southern district of New York was made by attorneys acting for Giuliani creditors, including one of those election workers, Shaye Moss.

Attorneys also filed on behalf of Noelle Dunphy – a former associate suing Giuliani for $10m, alleging sexual assault and harassment – and Dominion Voting Systems, which reached a $787.5m settlement with Fox News over its broadcast of Trump’s election lies and also sued Giuliani.

The filing formally opposed Giuliani’s attempt to change his chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings – shielding him from creditors while he ostensibly reorganizes his financial books – into a chapter seven liquidation of assets.

Attorneys for his creditors said Giuliani was “playing the delay game”.

“He played games with the DC district court [in the defamation case] in continually agreeing to comply with court orders and then failing to do so, and he has been doing the same thing in this chapter 11 case,” the creditors’ attorneys said. “Giuliani’s goal is to continue to avoid responsibility for his malfeasance.”

Giuliani was recently disbarred from practicing law in New York. Disbarment proceedings are ongoing in Washington DC.

In their New York filing, his creditors’ attorneys said: “The New York supreme court’s decision on Giuliani’s disbarment just as easily could have been written about Giuliani and this bankruptcy case. This chicanery is what he does and who he is.”

A spokesperson for Giuliani did not immediately respond to a Guardian request for comment.

But the spokesperson, Ted Goodman, told Law & Crime that in seeking to change the contours of his bankruptcy case, Giuliani was “simply following available options to combat an entirely partisan and politically motivated proceeding”.

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French investigators open inquiry into finances of 2022 Le Pen campaign

Prosecutors to investigate allegations of embezzlement, forgery and fraud during failed presidential election bid

French investigators have opened an inquiry into the campaign finances of the far-right leader Marine Le Pen during her failed 2022 presidential election bid against Emmanuel Macron, as politicians on the left continue to discuss how a new government could be formed in France.

The Paris prosecutors’ office announced on Tuesday that an investigation had been opened last week to examine allegations over Le Pen’s campaigning funding, which include embezzlement, forgery, fraud, and a further allegation that a candidate on an electoral campaign accepted a loan. No further details were given.

Le Pen and her party have previously denied wrongdoing in connection with campaign financing.

The preliminary investigation was opened after a national commission in charge of scrutinising campaign finances, the CNCCFP, had alerted the prosecutor’s office last year.

The 2022 election was the second time Le Pen, who was then head of the anti-immigration, far-right National Rally (RN) party, faced Macron in the runoff and lost to him.

In December 2022, the commission had objected to expenses linked to putting up and taking down campaigning material on 12 buses, describing them as “irregular”. Le Pen had appealed but then dropped the case.

French politicians continue to ponder how to form a government after Le Pen’s far right was held back by tactical voting in the final round of a snap election on Sunday night, but no grouping has won an absolute majority.

The leftwing alliance, the New Popular Front (NFP) – a coalition which runs from the firmly leftwing La France Insoumise to the Greens, Communists and more centre-left Socialists – is still debating who to put forward as a potential prime minister and whether it could be open to working in a broader coalition.

But although the left was slightly ahead of Macron’s centrist grouping and Le Pen’s far-right RN, it remains about 100 seats short of an absolute majority. Parliament is now divided between three closely balanced political forces: the left, centrists and the far right.

Whoever governs would need some form of coalition. It is not certain that a prime minister from the left would survive a confidence vote in parliament.

Any left-leaning government would need “broader support in the National Assembly”, the Socialist MP Boris Vallaud told France Inter.

“None of the three leading blocs can govern alone,” Stéphane Séjourné, head of Macron’s Renaissance party, wrote in Le Monde. He suggested the centrist bloc could now try to form its own coalition and join with some parts of the centre left while refusing to work with others who are further left.

“The centrist bloc is ready to talk to all the members of the republican spectrum,” he added, saying any coalition members must support the EU and Ukraine and maintain business-friendly policies. These requirements, he said, would “necessarily exclude” La France Insoumise and its firebrand founder Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

After a meeting of the centrist group, the Renaissance lawmaker Pierre Cazeneuve told Reuters: “We have reaffirmed our red lines: No deal with La France Insoumise and no deal with the National Rally.”

Gabriel Attal is staying on as prime minister while the country remains without a new government, but discussions on how to form some kind of coalition could take weeks.

Macron called the snap election last month after his centrists were trounced by the far right in European elections. He said at the time that the nation needed “clarity”. But the political uncertainty could drag on over the summer.

Mélenchon on Tuesday accused Macron of deliberately “blocking the situation to keep power for as long as possible”.

The Socialist leader Olivier Faure said he would be prepared for his name to be put forward for prime minister, but added: “That would be decided in dialogue with our partners. I don’t agree with anyone imposing their point of view on others.”

Yaël Braun-Pivet, the centrist former leader of parliament, told France Inter radio: “Mathematically, democratically, no one can govern alone today.” She said a coalition of different parties should agree on a handful of priority projects for the next year.

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French investigators open inquiry into finances of 2022 Le Pen campaign

Prosecutors to investigate allegations of embezzlement, forgery and fraud during failed presidential election bid

French investigators have opened an inquiry into the campaign finances of the far-right leader Marine Le Pen during her failed 2022 presidential election bid against Emmanuel Macron, as politicians on the left continue to discuss how a new government could be formed in France.

The Paris prosecutors’ office announced on Tuesday that an investigation had been opened last week to examine allegations over Le Pen’s campaigning funding, which include embezzlement, forgery, fraud, and a further allegation that a candidate on an electoral campaign accepted a loan. No further details were given.

Le Pen and her party have previously denied wrongdoing in connection with campaign financing.

The preliminary investigation was opened after a national commission in charge of scrutinising campaign finances, the CNCCFP, had alerted the prosecutor’s office last year.

The 2022 election was the second time Le Pen, who was then head of the anti-immigration, far-right National Rally (RN) party, faced Macron in the runoff and lost to him.

In December 2022, the commission had objected to expenses linked to putting up and taking down campaigning material on 12 buses, describing them as “irregular”. Le Pen had appealed but then dropped the case.

French politicians continue to ponder how to form a government after Le Pen’s far right was held back by tactical voting in the final round of a snap election on Sunday night, but no grouping has won an absolute majority.

The leftwing alliance, the New Popular Front (NFP) – a coalition which runs from the firmly leftwing La France Insoumise to the Greens, Communists and more centre-left Socialists – is still debating who to put forward as a potential prime minister and whether it could be open to working in a broader coalition.

But although the left was slightly ahead of Macron’s centrist grouping and Le Pen’s far-right RN, it remains about 100 seats short of an absolute majority. Parliament is now divided between three closely balanced political forces: the left, centrists and the far right.

Whoever governs would need some form of coalition. It is not certain that a prime minister from the left would survive a confidence vote in parliament.

Any left-leaning government would need “broader support in the National Assembly”, the Socialist MP Boris Vallaud told France Inter.

“None of the three leading blocs can govern alone,” Stéphane Séjourné, head of Macron’s Renaissance party, wrote in Le Monde. He suggested the centrist bloc could now try to form its own coalition and join with some parts of the centre left while refusing to work with others who are further left.

“The centrist bloc is ready to talk to all the members of the republican spectrum,” he added, saying any coalition members must support the EU and Ukraine and maintain business-friendly policies. These requirements, he said, would “necessarily exclude” La France Insoumise and its firebrand founder Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

After a meeting of the centrist group, the Renaissance lawmaker Pierre Cazeneuve told Reuters: “We have reaffirmed our red lines: No deal with La France Insoumise and no deal with the National Rally.”

Gabriel Attal is staying on as prime minister while the country remains without a new government, but discussions on how to form some kind of coalition could take weeks.

Macron called the snap election last month after his centrists were trounced by the far right in European elections. He said at the time that the nation needed “clarity”. But the political uncertainty could drag on over the summer.

Mélenchon on Tuesday accused Macron of deliberately “blocking the situation to keep power for as long as possible”.

The Socialist leader Olivier Faure said he would be prepared for his name to be put forward for prime minister, but added: “That would be decided in dialogue with our partners. I don’t agree with anyone imposing their point of view on others.”

Yaël Braun-Pivet, the centrist former leader of parliament, told France Inter radio: “Mathematically, democratically, no one can govern alone today.” She said a coalition of different parties should agree on a handful of priority projects for the next year.

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US mountaineer buried by avalanche 22 years ago found preserved in ice, police say

William Stampfl tried to climb Mount Huascarán in 2002 with two friends, one was found and one is still missing

Police have found the well-preserved body of an American mountaineer who was buried by an avalanche 22 years ago as he tried to climb one of the highest peaks in the Andes.

Police in the Ancash region found the body of William Stampfl on Friday near a camp 5,200 meters (17,060 ft) above sea level. The 58-year-old Stampfl had been trying to climb the 6,768-meter Mount Huascarán.

Police said Stampfl’s body was preserved by the ice and freezing temperatures and still had well-preserved climbing boots, crampons and clothing. They said the body was easy to identify also because the climber had been carrying his driving license and passport.

Hundreds of climbers visit the mountain each year with local guides, and it takes them about a week to reach the summit.

Stampfl, a self-employed civil engineer born in Austria, was with friends Matthew Richardson and Steve Erskine when they attempted the ascent in 2002.

Erskine’s body was found shortly after the avalanche, but Richardson’s is still missing.

Stampfl’s body was brought down the mountain over the weekend by guides and police officers and put in a morgue in the city of Huaraz.

As global warming causes glaciers around the world melt and recede, authorities have registered a significant increase in the number of human remains, as the bodies of hikers and climbers are released from the ice and snow.

Glacial mass in the region has been retreating for about the last 10 years, said Edson Ramirez, a park ranger and risk assessor for the Huascarán national park. “What was buried years ago is coming to the surface.”

Peru has an estimated 68% of the world’s tropical glaciers, which are among the most vulnerable ice packs in a warming planet. A November report by Peru’s government shows the country has lost 56% of its tropical glaciers in the last six decades.

Many of those glaciers lie in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, where the Huascarán and other famed mountains draw thousands of climbers a year.

In May, the body of an Israeli hiker was found there nearly a month after he disappeared.

  • Associated Press and Reuters contributed reporting

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Spain sentences 15 schoolchildren over AI-generated naked images

Teenagers each given a year’s probation after creating and spreading faked images of female classmates in south-west Spain

A court in south-west Spain has sentenced 15 schoolchildren to a year’s probation for creating and spreading AI-generated images of their female peers in a case that prompted a debate on the harmful and abusive uses of deepfake technology.

Police began investigating the matter last year after parents in the Extremaduran town of Almendralejo reported that faked naked pictures of their daughters were being circulated on WhatsApp groups.

The mother of one of the victims said the dissemination of the pictures on WhatsApp had been going on since July.

“Many girls were completely terrified and had tremendous anxiety attacks because they were suffering this in silence,” she told Reuters at the time. “They felt bad and were afraid to tell and be blamed for it.”

On Tuesday, a youth court in the city of Badajoz said it had convicted the minors of 20 counts of creating child abuse images and 20 counts of offences against their victims’ moral integrity.

Each of the defendants was handed a year’s probation and ordered to attend classes on gender and equality awareness, and on the “responsible use of technology”.

“The sentence notes that it has been proved that the minors used artificial intelligence applications to obtain manipulated images of [other minors] by taking girls’ original faces from their social media profiles and superimposing those images on the bodies of naked female bodies,” the court said in a statement. “The manipulated photos were then shared on two WhatsApp groups.”

Police identified several teenagers aged between 13 and 15 as being responsible for generating and sharing the images.

Under Spanish law minors under 14 cannot be charged but their cases are sent to child protection services, which can force them to take part in rehabilitation courses.

In an interview with the Guardian five months ago, the mother of one of the victims recalled her shock and disbelief when her daughter showed her one of the images.

“It’s a shock when you see it,” said the woman from Almendralejo. “The image is completely realistic … If I didn’t know my daughter’s body, I would have thought that image was real.”

The Malvaluna Association, which acted on behalf of the affected families, said the case had implications for wider Spanish society.

“Beyond this particular trial, these facts should make us reflect on the need to educate people about equality between men and women,” the association told the online newspaper ElDiario.es.

It said the case underlined the necessity of proper sex education at school so that children did not learn about sex from pornography, which “generates more sexism and violence”.

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Irish woman charged with ‘attempting suicide’ by Dubai court

Public figures call for release of Tori Towey, 28, who says attempt was response to alleged domestic violence attack

A 28-year-old woman from Ireland has been charged with “attempting suicide” by a court in Dubai, with politicians and campaigners calling for her release.

Tori Towey, who works in the United Arab Emirates as an airline cabin crew member, was allegedly attacked and left with severe bruising and other injuries in a violent incident.

Towey, from Boyle in County Roscommon, was taken to a police station where she was told she was being charged with attempted suicide and abusing alcohol.

The Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald, who has been supporting her, told the parliament in Ireland on Tuesday that Towey’s passport was blocked and she cannot return to Ireland.

Simon Harris, the taoiseach, told the Dáil he is ready to “intervene” in the case. Harris said he was not aware of the case but noted that her plight had been raised with the minister for foreign affairs by Sinn Féin.

The taoiseach, who was responding to a question from McDonald, said: “Thank you, deputy McDonald, for bringing the case of Tori to my attention,” RTÉ reported.

“I’m not directly apprised of the situation, but I’m very happy to be directly apprised of it now,” he added.

Harris added he would work with the deputy “to intervene and see how we can support an Irish citizen in what sounds to be – based on what you tell me – the most appalling circumstances”.

Ireland’s department of foreign affairs told Sky News it is “aware of the case and is providing consular assistance”.

It added: “As with all consular cases, the department does not comment on the details of individual cases.”

McDonald told parliament: “She’s under incredible stress.

“Tori is a Roscommon woman, and she wants to come home.”

Towey, who moved to Dubai in April 2023, is staying in a rented property with her mother, Caroline, who travelled to be with her daughter.

The case against the cabin crew employee will be heard in court on 18 July.

Radha Stirling, CEO of the Detained in Dubai advocacy group, which is supporting the family, said it is calling on the country’s authorities to drop the charges, remove the travel ban and let Towey fly home with her mother.

She added: “She has been charged with attempted suicide and alcohol consumption.

“Strangely, the UAE has gone to great public relations efforts to promote alcohol as legal in the country. In reality, people are still regularly charged with alcohol consumption and possession.

“Tori’s experience is nothing short of tragic and quite frankly, she is lucky to be alive.”

Stirling wrote on X that Michael Fitzmaurice, Teachta Dála of Ireland, told her that he has made representations to the UAE’s ambassador to Ireland and the department of foreign affairs.

The UAE government has been approached for comment.

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Buckingham Palace’s east wing opens to public for first time for £75 tours

The area, packed with royal history and dragon symbols, has been private since it was built 175 years ago

The appearances of royals on the Buckingham Palace balcony has long been a focal point of national events. From Queen Victoria welcoming troops back from Crimea and George V celebrating the end of the Great War to the late Queen Elizabeth II on her platinum jubilee, it has gained iconic status.

But the palace room immediately behind its famous net curtains has remained private since the east wing was built 175 years ago.

Until now. Buckingham Palace next week throws open the doors to previously private rooms in the newly reserviced east wing for the first time for exclusive £75 limited tours.

And here be dragons – everywhere; on porcelain, cabinets, nine-tier hexagonal pagodas, ornate gilded curtain poles, fireplaces and ceilings.

It is thanks to George IV, whose 18th-century passion for chinoiserie at his Royal Pavilion in Brighton saw many of these unique ceramic objets d’art and furniture incorporated into Buckingham Palace by Victoria when in 1850 she sold off his seaside retreat to build the east wing and better accommodate her growing family. It took 143 removal loads.

The palace’s £370m 10-year reservicing programme saw about 3,500 objects removed from the east wing alone for vital rewiring and plumbing work, but now the rooms behind the facade have been restored.

The balcony was Victoria’s consort Prince Albert’s idea “to connect with the people”, said Caroline de Guitaut, a surveyor of the king’s works of art. While visitors cannot step on to the balcony itself, its view of the Victoria memorial right down the Mall can be clearly seen through the net drapes from which many a young royal has peeped on state occasions. The net curtains themselves are of humbler provenance than the items on display, being standard issue across the palace.

In the Centre Room behind the balcony and shielded by the nets, highlights include a newly restored glass chandelier, shaped to resemble a lotus flower, and two Chinese 18th-century Imperial Silk wall hangings, presented to Victoria by Guangxu, the emperor of China, on her diamond jubilee in 1897.

The Yellow Drawing Room, where Elizabeth II sat for portrait artists, is used for royal audiences and receptions. Once hung with yellow damask, Queen Mary replaced it with 18th-century hand-painted Chinese wallpaper featuring trees and birds. The wallpaper has been expertly removed, cleaned and rehung, and was found by Mary among stored items from the Royal Pavilion. Mary liked its bright yellow background, now faded with time to a creamy hue. Visitors can also admire two hexagonal, nine-tiered Chinese porcelain pagodas and the Kylin clock, which incorporates two turquoise Chinese lions.

The Royal Pavilion’s interior “inspired the Chinese-themed decor in Buckingham Palace’s principal rooms” according to the Royal Collection, which holds about one million works of art and objects gifted or bought by kings and queens over 500 years.

All 240ft of the Principal Corridor, which spans the entire width of the palace, is heavily hung with royal paintings including Gainsboroughs, Russian paintings gifted to Victoria by emperor Nicholas 1 and a large work by William Powell Frith of the 1863 Windsor wedding of a future Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, showing Victoria, in mourning black two years after Albert’s death from typhoid fever, peering down from a balcony.

Part of the corridor is lined with a parade of ebonised cabinets of English craftsmanship but incorporating Japanese panels. A richly decorated cylinder bureau from France was bought after the French Revolution, when lots of French royal objects suddenly came on to the market. There are examples, too, of japanning, the European imitation of east Asian lacquerwork.

Tours of the east wing, which were the idea of King Charles, begin on Monday and are restricted to just 20 people at a time. Tickets sold out within hours when they went on sale earlier this year. They must be bought with the standard ticket for the Palace’s State Rooms where visitors can see the dramatic new portrait of the king by Jonathan Yeo dominating the ballroom.

The 10-year reservicing programme is being funded via a temporary uplift in the Sovereign Grant, with the treasury previously approving funding of £369m to deliver the programme.

Details of Buckingham Palace tours and summer opening can be found at the Royal Collection website.

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