Orbán makes a surprise trip to Ukraine

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Wednesday, 3rd July 2024.

A day after he took over the EU’s rotating presidency, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán showed up in Ukraine’s capital for the first time since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022 and brought some suggestions for ending the war.


Analysts say it could not have been an easy meeting for Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and Orbán on Tuesday, but both leaders mustered a smile as they shook hands for the cameras.


“I asked the Ukrainian president to think about whether we could reverse the order, to speed up peace talks by making a ceasefire first,” Orbán, a strident nationalist, said in a brief press statement alongside Zelenskyy in Kyiv, during his first visit to Kyiv since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.


“A ceasefire connected to a deadline would give a chance to speed up peace talks,” said Orbán, the EU leader with the friendliest relations with Russia, who has frequently delayed sanctions on Kremlin officials and EU military aid packages for Ukraine. “I explored this possibility with the president, and I am grateful for his honest answers and negotiation.”


Zelenskyy himself made no mention of Orbán’s suggestion during his address, speaking only of a desire for a “just peace”. He had previously argued that a ceasefire would only allow Russia to re-arm and would not lead to an end to the war.


Clearly not overjoyed, the pair conjured a smile for the camera during the trip.


On Tuesday, Zelenskyy called for EU member states to keep up their military aid for Ukraine, which, according to the latest official figures now totals $38 billion, from the bloc’s institutions and its member states combined.
Ihor Zhovkva, a deputy from the president’s office, responded shortly after: “Ukraine’s position is quite clear, understandable and well-known. We are saying that Ukraine really wants peace for itself. This is logical.”

Nine Ukrainian war jets turned into ashes


Russian forces have reportedly destroyed nine Ukrainian fighter jets in 24 hours, including strikes on Mirgorod airfield. They claim to have intercepted Western-made missiles and numerous drones. The attacks, involving Iskander-M missiles, damaged or destroyed several Su-27 and MiG-29 aircraft. Russia also reports intercepting Storm Shadow missiles and downing a Bayraktar TB2 drone. These losses are significant for Ukraine’s air force, prompting Kyiv to request F-16 jets from Western allies to counter Russia’s air superiority and potentially strike deep into Russian territory.


AOC threatens to impeach all Supreme Court Justices over Trump’s ruling


US Republican Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known by her initials AOC, announced she would soon file impeachment articles against the six conservative Justices on the Supreme Court in the wake of their decision to grant partial immunity to former President Trump as he faces felony charges for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent liberal on the House Oversight Committee, said the ruling belies a central premise of America’s constitutional design – namely, that no one is above the law – and threatens to put the country on a path to tyranny.


The conservative 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court ruled Monday a president does have immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts in a monumental decision.


The ruling kicks the decision on whether Trump intentionally tried to subvert the 2020 election results back to a Washington, DC judge – and will likely delay the trial until after the November election in a ‘big win’ for the former president.


Reacting to the ruling, an outraged Ocasio-Cortez wrote on X: ‘The Supreme Court has become consumed by a corruption crisis beyond its control. ‘Today’s ruling represents an assault on American democracy. It is up to Congress to defend our nation from this authoritarian capture,’ her post continued.


Her post did not specify which justices she plans on drafting articles of impeachment for, but it is expected to target the six conservative justices.


The ruling Monday means that if Trump wins the November election he can direct the Justice Department to drop the charges against him, dealing a blow to those who want to see him convicted for his involvement with the January 6 riot to overturn the election results.


Prosecutors had argued that Trump was acting as a candidate, and not in his official capacity, when he addressed the audience.


The former president’s attorneys, meanwhile, argued that Trump was conducting official presidential business – which the new Supreme Court ruling means is protected under presidential immunity.


Trump himself celebrated the ruling on Monday, posting on his Truth Social app: ‘Big win for our constitution and democracy. Proud to be an American!’


President Biden described the Supreme Court ruling as “a dangerous precedent”.


“Americans must decide whether it is acceptable that” the tycoon “encouraged violence to maintain power”, underlined Biden referring to the assault on the American Congress on January 6, 2021. “Americans deserve that Trump’s trial takes place before the elections”, according to the US president.


Biden blames world travels on poor debate performance


President Joe Biden blamed his globetrotting ahead of Thursday’s disastrous debate for his poor performance.
The 81-year-old president made the concession during a fundraiser in the ritzy DC suburb of McLean, Virginia Tuesday night.


He told the crowd he ‘wasn’t very smart’ for ‘traveling around the world a couple times’ before his showdown with presumptive Republican nominee, former President Donald Trump.


‘I decided to travel around the world a couple of times … shortly before the debate …I didn’t listen to my staff … and then I almost fell asleep on stage,’ the president said. He added, ‘It’s not an excuse but an explanation.’


The New York Times reported Tuesday that Biden was so drained from the jetsetting that advisers cut debate prep short by two days.


The problem for the White House and the Biden campaign is that Trump emerged as the clear winner of the debate.
Biden looked every one of 81 years, as his answers ground to a halt or rambled into bizarre non sequiturs.


He was unable to challenge Trump’s exaggerations and falsehoods, and at the end of the 90 minutes was helped off stage by his wife.


Democrat calls for Biden to sit out 2024 race after debate disaster


Lloyd Doggett, a House of Representatives member and a member of the Democratic Party, has publicly called on President Biden to withdraw from the presidential race.


It means that the lawmaker has broken away from toeing the party line to make the call, telling the president to step aside and make way for a “new generation of leaders” to unite the country.


He claimed that Biden delivered the party from Trump four years ago, pleading with him not to allow the Republican candidate to return to the White House in 2024.


Doggett is among the lawmakers who are unlikely to convince the president, who so far has remained committed to staying in the race. But the growing voices may influence others closer to Biden’s orbit to reconsider.


He added, “I am hopeful that he will make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw. I respectfully call on him to do so.”
While other former Democrats and liberal pundits have speculated on Biden’s ability to hold the presidency through 2028, should he win, there have been no other sitting Democrats who have gone as far in their calls as Doggett.


Rudy Giuliani disbarred in New York for comments about election


Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been disbarred from practicing law after the city said he made false statements about Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss.


The former federal prosecutor and Trump advisor’s name has been ‘stricken from the roll of attorneys and counsellors-at-law in the state of New York’ and is not allowed to be involved in any legal proceedings in the state.


The decision was handed down by The Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State located in Manhattan Tuesday and is effective immediately.


Giuliani had already had his New York law license suspended for false statements he made after the President Joe Biden vs Trump 2020 election.
After the Republican candidate suffered a devastating loss in the last national election, Giuliani quickly became the primary mouthpiece for Trump’s false claims of voter fraud after the results were declared.


Boris Johnson appears to help Rishi Sunak stop ‘Starmergeddon’


Boris Johnson made a surprise appearance to welcome Rishi Sunak onto stage last night as the Tories try wade off Labour’s projected supermajority that would see the country ‘lurch in diametrically the wrong direction’.


As Brits prepare to go to the polls in less than 48 hours, the Conservatives have pulled out their secret weapon in a last ditch bid to cling on to blue seats.


Appearing at a late-night Tory rally with Rishi Sunak, the former prime minister called on supporters to return to the fold and stem a Labour landslide ‘pregnant with horrors’.


Although he hinted at past ‘differences’ with his successor, the Daily Mail insisted he ‘could not say no’ when Sunak asked for his help.


In an impassioned speech in London, Johnson urged voters flirting with Reform to ‘draw back from the brink’ and prevent Keir Starmer securing a ‘sledgehammer majority’.


‘If you actually want higher taxes – if you feel you have a few thousand to spare – then vote Labour on Thursday,’ he added.


‘If you want uncontrolled immigration, and mandatory wokery, and pointless low-towing to Brussels, then go right ahead and vote for Starmer.


‘But if you want to protect our democracy and our economy and keep this country strong abroad by spending 2.5 per cent of our GDP on defence, then the only way to do that is to vote Conservative on Thursday.’


India: Over 100 killed in stampede at religious gathering


Dozens of people were crushed to death in a stampede at a Hindu religious gathering in Mughalghari village in the Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh in northern India on Tuesday, officials said.


Medical and government officials gave varying death tolls in a fluid situation, with most recent estimates exceeding 100 people and many more in hospital, some with serious injuries. Medical official Umesh Tripathi said the death toll could still rise.


“Many injured have also been admitted,” Tripathi said, adding that most of the dead were women. “The primary reason is a stampede during a religious event.”


Several hours after the crush, Chaitra V., divisional commissioner of Aligarh city in Uttar Pradesh state, told reporters that “the death toll stands at 116”, with at least 18 others injured.


Crowds had gathered to celebrate the Hindu god Shiva in the city of Hathras, about 140 kilometers south of New Delhi.


“The attendees were exiting the venue when a dust storm blinded their vision, leading to a melee and the subsequent tragic incident,” Chaitra V. told the French AFP news agency.


The precise cause of the stampede remains unclear, but media have cited police sources as saying that hot and humid weather may have led to uncomfortable conditions, prompting panic.


Turkey set up Euros quarter-final with win over Austria


Turkey will face the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of Euro 2024 after winning a thriller with Austria 2-1 as both countries reached the last eight of a European Championship for the first time since 2008.


Merih Demiral was the unlikely hero for Turkey, in soaking Leipzig, after bundling his team ahead with less than a minute on the clock and then thumping in the decisive header just before the hour mark.


Vincenzo Montella’s side, who were missing suspended captain Hakan Calhanoglu but once again backed by massive support at the Zentralstadion, will take on the Dutch in Berlin on Saturday after their comfortable 3-0 win over Romania earlier on Tuesday.


Turkey will again be able to count on their raucous fans in the German capital as they aim to replicate their run to the last four from 16 years ago.


Ralf Rangnick’s side were on top for most of the match and in particular in the second half, when they pinned Turkey back and conceded the second goal completely against the run of play.


Fans ‘throw trainers’ onto the pitch during Netherlands’ victory


A bizarre incident occurred during the Netherlands’ 3-0 victory over Romania in the last-16 of Euro 2024 as fans reportedly threw trainers on the pitch before Donyell Malen scored the Oranje’s third goal.


Ronald Koeman’s side progressed to the quarter-finals of the tournament thanks to two goals from the Borussia Dortmund star and one from Cody Gakpo, but it was Malen’s second strike that caused confusion.


As the forward ran towards the Romania goal, a pair of trainers were seen inside their penalty box. Romania keeper Florian Nita was forced to kick one trainer away, before Malen cut inside and fired past him, with the ball thankfully not hitting either shoe.


As Romania’s supporters were behind that goal in the second half so it was assumed that one frustrated fan threw them onto the pitch.


There will be no programme today and tomorrow. Quarter-final matches continue on Friday with Spain v Germany (6pm) and Potugal v. France (9pm). The other two quarter-final matches – England v Switzerland (6pm) and Netherlands v Turkey – will be played on Saturday.


Copa America: Group D results: Brazil v Columbia 1-1; Costa Rica v Paraguay 2-1. No programme tomorrow. On Friday, Quarter-final: Argentina v. Ecuador.

Photo: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

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