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Three Killed In Latest Russian Missile Barrage To Hit Ukraine, Zelenskiy Says

A Ukrainian police officer attends the site of a Russian military strike on a residential area in Pavlohrad on May 1.
A Ukrainian police officer attends the site of a Russian military strike on a residential area in Pavlohrad on May 1.

Russia hit Ukraine with a nighttime barrage of 18 missiles, killing two people in Pavlohrad and a 14-year-old boy in the Chernihiv region, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on May 1.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's full-scale invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

Forty other people were injured in Pavlohrad, Zelenskiy said in his nightly address.

"The terrorists' missiles took the lives of two people, very young men," Zelenskiy said, referring to the two deaths in the eastern city, which is a railway hub,.

Zelenskiy also said the 14-year-boy killed in the northern region of Chernihiv died close to his school when the building was hit by a bomb.

Serhiy Lysak, the head of the regional administration, had said earlier that 34 people, including five children, were injured in the attack on Pavlohrad, and seven rockets were shot down by air-defense units.

"An industrial enterprise was damaged in Pavlohrad,” he wrote on Telegram. “In a residential area, 19 high-rise buildings, 25 private houses, six educational institutions, and five shops were damaged; nearly 40 residential buildings.”

A post to the Telegram account of Ukraine’s commander in chief, General Valeriy Zaluzhniy, said missiles were launched from Russian plants at around 2.30 a.m. local time. It said 15 out of the 18 missiles launched had been destroyed.

Russia's Defense Ministry said in a statement that its forces had carried out missile strikes against Ukrainian locations, and claimed that all its missiles had hit designated military sites.

Zaluzhniy spoke by phone later on May 1 with U.S. General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and informed him about the situation across the front line, describing it as “difficult but under control.” He also stressed the need to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses and the timely delivery of weapons.

The head of Russian-controlled Sevastopol said the Crimean city was the target of a drone attack. Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Moscow-installed administrator of the port city, said the Black Sea Fleet and Russian air-defense forces shot down one of the drones.

In recent days, there has been an uptick in aerial attacks and other explosions in Ukraine, as well as in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, including at a fuel depot on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.

Some Ukrainian authorities have hinted that the new explosions might be connected to a widely anticipated counteroffensive.

The site of the fiercest fighting for nearly 10 months has been the Donetsk region city of Bakhmut, where Russian forces are slowly chipping away at Ukrainian positions, and are believed to hold most of the territory in the now-devastated town, but apparently at a high cost.

The White House on May 1 said it estimates that since December Russia has suffered 100,000 casualties, including more than 20,000 killed in fighting for control of Bakhmut and other parts of eastern Ukraine.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said nearly half those killed since December were Wagner group mercenaries, many of them convicts who were released from prison to join Russia's fight.

The new figures suggest that Russian losses have accelerated in recent months. Milley said in November that Russia had suffered well over 100,000 killed or wounded in the first eight months of the war.

Zelenskiy spoke by phone with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on May 1 to discuss long-term defense cooperation. Zelenskiy noted on Twitter the confiscation of Russian assets and called for increased sanctions-pressure on Russia.

Canada last month announced a new package of military aid to Ukraine worth 39 million Canadian dollars ($28.8 million). The aid includes funds for 3.3 million liters of fuel, sniper rifles, ammunition, spare parts for guns, and new radio equipment for Leopard 2 tanks.

The ministry added that all eight Leopard 2 battle tanks pledged by Canada have been delivered to Poland, and that Canada has sent three instructors to train Ukrainian troops on operating the tanks.

With reporting by Current Time and RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

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Concern Rises Over Racial Extremism After Arrest Of Alleged White Supremacist Headed To Ukraine

Representatives of the Free Russia Legion, the Siberian Battalion, and the Russian Volunteer Corps attend a press conference of pro-Ukrainian Russian paramilitary groups in Kyiv in March.
Representatives of the Free Russia Legion, the Siberian Battalion, and the Russian Volunteer Corps attend a press conference of pro-Ukrainian Russian paramilitary groups in Kyiv in March.

The U.S. Justice Department on July 12 said ethnically motivated attacks were becoming a serious global threat and suggested the global community take them more seriously, a day after announcing the arrest of an 18-year-old New Jersey man who is accused of plotting to attack a U.S. electrical substation to advance his white-supremacist views.

The new threats are emerging through technological changes and Russian-linked actors developing and spreading false narratives on racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism (REMVE) in Ukraine, the Justice Department said in a news release.

The department said the international community had developed strong cooperation over the last 20 years to counter terrorist groups and networks, such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State, but there is not yet the same type of routine information sharing for REMVE.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's full-scale invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

To address the gap, the Justice Department said it co-hosted with the State Department the third annual meeting of the Counterterrorism Law Enforcement Forum in The Hague on July 10-11.

The forum's participants included law enforcement, prosecutors, and other criminal justice practitioners from around the world to discuss how to effectively address and counter REMVE threats.

The meeting built on the conversations that participants had in the first two forums, "reflecting the type of cooperation that will be needed in the coming years as REMVE threats continue to build their transnational ties," the Justice Department said.

The arrest of the 18-year-old was announced on July 11 after he made his initial appearance in court for allegedly soliciting another individual to destroy an electrical substation in the United States.

The defendant, Andrew Takhistov of Brunswick, New Jersey, was arrested on July 10 at the international airport in Newark, New Jersey, where he was about to board a transatlantic flight.

Authorities said they believe Takhistov was on his way to Ukraine to join the Russian Volunteer Corps.

Takhistov two months ago informed an undercover employee that he was planning to travel to Ukraine in July to join the Russian Volunteer Corps, explaining that he chose the organization because it was openly national-socialist and specialized in assassinations, attacks on power grids, and other infrastructure sabotage.

"We will not tolerate these kinds of alleged terroristic threats, and working with our partners, we will always be ready to root out and bring to justice anyone who attempts to carry out these acts," Philip Sellinger, the U.S. attorney in New Jersey, said in a news release.

A criminal complaint against Takhistov alleges that he encouraged violence against black and Jewish communities, discussed causing death and destruction on a large scale, praised mass shooters, and shared online a quote attributed to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler about terrorism as "the best political weapon."

According to the complaint, Takhistov repeatedly referred to his REMVE ideology and his desire to advance that ideology through violent means. He also formed his own REMVE group called White Legion in North Carolina.

Takhistov claimed that he trained with two individuals he recruited from militant neo-Nazi chatrooms, obtained neo-Nazi literature from the overtly neo-Nazi discussion group European American Unity, and in March took part in a white-nationalist protest at a park in New Brunswick.

According to Sellinger, Takhistov discussed a "three-step plan for white domination" ending the war in Ukraine, invading Russia and then starting political activism in Europe and the United States in support of national-socialist political parties.

Takhistov is charged with one count of soliciting another individual to engage in criminal conduct that involved destroying an electrical facility in the United States. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

With reporting by AP

Russian, U.S. Defense Chiefs Discussed Lowering Escalation In Call, Moscow Says

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (left) and Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov (combo photo)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (left) and Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov (combo photo)

Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin discussed lowering the risk of "possible escalation" in a telephone call, the Russian Defense Ministry said on July 12. The call, which was initiated by Moscow, came after Washington announced plans to deploy long-range missiles in Germany, a decision the Kremlin warned could spell a return to Cold War-style confrontation. "The issue of preventing security threats and reducing the risk of possible escalation was discussed," Russia's Defense Ministry said in a statement. Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh confirmed that the call took place and was initiated by Moscow but provided no further information. The White House announced on July 10 that it would station long-range weapons in Germany as a deterrent.

Ukraine's Ambassador To International Organizations Resigns Amid Scandal

Emine Dzheppar (file photo)
Emine Dzheppar (file photo)

Former First Deputy Ukrainian Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar (aka Dzhaparova) said on Facebook on July 11 that she filed papers asking Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to relieve her from the post of full-time ambassador to international organizations in Vienna. In April, Dzheppar was dismissed as first deputy foreign minister but kept her position in Vienna. She has been under media focus for months after she married a controversial tycoon, Hennadiy Boholyubov, who, according to the State Bureau of Investigations, used forged documents to flee Ukraine last month to avoid arrest on corruption charges. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, click here.

Finland Passes Law To Block Migrants Crossing From Russia

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo called the new law "a strong message to Russia, a strong message to our allies, that Finland takes care of its own security, we take care of the security of the EU border." (file photo)
Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo called the new law "a strong message to Russia, a strong message to our allies, that Finland takes care of its own security, we take care of the security of the EU border." (file photo)

Finland's parliament passed a law on July 12 granting border guards the power to block asylum seekers crossing from Russia, after more than 1,300 people arrived in the country and forced Helsinki to close its border. Finland has accused neighboring Russia of weaponizing migration by encouraging scores of migrants from countries such as Syria and Somalia to cross the border, an assertion the Kremlin denies. Helsinki believes Moscow is promoting the crossings in retaliation for Finland joining NATO, which is backing Ukraine against Russia's invasion. The right-wing government of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo has said the bill is vital to stop future arrivals, despite the law being at odds with its international human rights commitments. Finland shut its land borders with Russia late last year.

Sukhoi Superjet Crashes Near Moscow, Killing All 3 Aboard

Sukhoi Superjet 100 (file photo)
Sukhoi Superjet 100 (file photo)

Emergency officials in the Moscow region said on July 12 that a Sukhoi Superjet 100 passenger plane crashed near the city of Kolomna, near the Russian capital, killing all three crew members on board. The plane was on its way to Moscow's Vnukovo airport after a regular technical evaluation and repair work. The plane, made in 2014, belonged to the Gazprom Avia company. Kolomna Mayor Aleksandr Grechishchev, who visited the crash site, said there were no casualties beyond the three crew members. A probe was launched into the "violation of safety regulations aboard aircraft that led to deaths." To read the original story by RFE/RL's Russian Service, click here.

Ukraine's Top Prosecutor Wants International Court To Open Case On Kyiv Hospital Attack

Mourners stand next to the grave in Lviv of Svitlana Lukyanchuk, a 30-year-old physician who was killed in the suspected Russian missile strike on Kyiv's Okhmatdyt children's hospital.
Mourners stand next to the grave in Lviv of Svitlana Lukyanchuk, a 30-year-old physician who was killed in the suspected Russian missile strike on Kyiv's Okhmatdyt children's hospital.

Ukraine's top prosecutor has called for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Russia over a missile strike on a children's hospital in Kyiv earlier this week. On July 8, Ukraine's capital suffered one of its worst days of air strikes since the start of Russia's war, and attacks across the country killed at least 44 people, including two adults at the Okhmatdyt children's hospital, Ukrainian officials have said. "For the sake of international justice, cases like the intentional attack on the biggest child hospital in Kyiv [are] worth lifting to the ICC," Prosecutor-General Andriy Kostin told Reuters late on July 11 in an interview in The Hague, where the ICC is based. Moscow denies attacking the hospital and has blamed Ukrainian anti-missile fire. A UN rights mission has said there is a "high likelihood" the hospital took a direct hit from a Russian missile.

Kazakh Court Rejects Appeal Filed By Pro-Ukrainian Woman Against 'Hatred' Conviction

Qalima Zhaparova in a Kazakh courtroom on May 23
Qalima Zhaparova in a Kazakh courtroom on May 23

The Shymkent City Court in southern Kazakhstan on July 12 rejected an appeal filed by a pro-Ukrainian resident, Qalima Zhaparova, against a two-year parole-like sentence she was handed in May on a charge of inciting ethnic hatred. On May 24, after her sentence was pronounced, Zhaparova shouted, "Glory to Ukraine!" The 63-year-old was arrested in November after an ethnic Russian woman filed a complaint accusing Zhaparova of insulting her and her ethnicity while on public transport. Zhaparova rejected the accusation, saying she was reacting to the woman's viewpoint regarding the war in Ukraine when she openly condemned Russia's full-scale invasion. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, click here.

U.S. Diplomat Says Kyiv's Drive Toward Western Norms Will Thwart Moscow's Aggression

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O'Brien during an interview with RFE/RL correspondent Zoriana Stepanenko. Washington, NATO summit, July 11
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O'Brien during an interview with RFE/RL correspondent Zoriana Stepanenko. Washington, NATO summit, July 11

WASHINGTON -- Ukraine's position in its battle to repel invading Russian troops has improved recently and Kyiv's drive to integrate with Western democratic structures will ultimately triumph over Moscow's aggression, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O'Brien told RFE/RL in an interview.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's full-scale invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

Speaking on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Washington, D.C. on July 11, O'Brien said the fastest way to peace is for Ukraine to be strong enough to win the war, which is why the military alliance, and the United States in particular, are stepping up supplies and aid to Kyiv to help drive out Russia while at the same time preserving a functioning economy.

NATO this week announced a major aid package to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s invasion, including the delivery of long-awaited U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets and the provision of $43 billion in military assistance within the next year.

"I think the quickest path to peace is that Ukraine be strong enough to win the war and between what we are doing here this week and what has been done in recent months, we feel very confident that Ukraine will be able to say to Russia we can continue fighting and defeating you through 2025," O'Brien said.

U.S. officials earlier in the week said that despite an intensification of air strikes and moves on the battlefield by Russia's army, Ukraine's position has improved since a $61 billion aid package was passed by Congress in April.

O'Brien said that by the end of the year, Kyiv will be able to say it has pushed back Russia, showing its resolve, and that of its allies.

"It’s clear that Ukraine will thrive, it will integrate in the West, it will be able to join the EU, as it was just invited to do, as it reforms, and in all of that, I don't think Russia will be able to maintain a conflict. The key to Russia's frozen conflicts is that it tries to keep those societies from joining the West and the rule of law. And that's not going to be allowed as part of the solution to this conflict," O'Brien said.

In order to reclaim ground and weaken Russia's war machine, Kyiv has been pushing Washington and other key allies to remove restrictions on the use of weapons they give Ukraine's army.

The issue of how Ukraine uses their donated weaponry is up to individual NATO members to decide. Some have said Kyiv can use them to strike Russian territory, while others have said their donated weapons can only be used within Ukraine.

Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelenskiy’s administration, told a NATO forum this week that lifting restrictions on how Ukraine uses donated weapons would be a “game-changer.”

O'Brien said discussions about how U.S. weaponry is to be used are ongoing to ensure their usage "is the most effective in military terms" and that Ukraine is still able to use "its own weapons" as it deems suitable.

"The president [Joe Biden] has said that we provide the weapons Ukraine's able to use in an effective way at a time it's able to use them...Any chances that limitations will be lifted? I think we always have discussions with Ukraine about what's most militarily effective," he added.

The NATO summit ended with a communique stating Ukraine is on an "irreversible path" to membership in the alliance.

O'Brien said NATO is giving Ukraine "the tools it needs" to go through the reform process necessary to become a member, including for the first time placing a senior civilian representative in a candidate country to help it navigate the process.

"As Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken has said, there will be a bridge to NATO, it will be short, unimpeded, well-lit, assisted to help Ukraine join. And that's why we say it's irreversible. Do the work, come in. And that's what's necessary and always has been."

Pakistani High Court Orders Jailed Ex-PM Khan's Party Into Assemblies

Protesters in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, demanding the release of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on June 8.
Protesters in Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, demanding the release of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on June 8.

Pakistan's Supreme Court on July 12 ordered that special seats in national and provincial assemblies for women and minorities be given to jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI) party, reversing rulings by the Peshawar High Court and the national Election Commission regarding elections in February. Supreme Court Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa led the 13-member court decision ruling that the PTI was still a political party and was unfairly excluded from the vote process. It said the PTI should submit its list of candidates to fill the special seats to the Election Commission within 15 days. Seventy-seven representatives had been disqualified from national and provincial assemblies. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, click here.

Orban-Backed Challenger Admits Defeat In Budapest Mayoral Race

Budapest mayoral candidate was backed David Vitezy by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in last month's election. (file photo)
Budapest mayoral candidate was backed David Vitezy by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in last month's election. (file photo)

Budapest's Fidesz-backed mayoral challenger conceded defeat on July 12 after Hungary's National Election Commission announced a recount had confirmed a razor-thin victory for opposition incumbent Gergely Karacsony. The challenger, David Vitezy, had gone to court over the results of the June 9 local elections, alleging widespread errors in the vote, but he acknowledged defeat in a Facebook post. Karacsony, representing the opposition green party Dialogue, received 293 more votes than Vitezy out of more than 742,000 valid ballots counted. Vitezy had the support of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose Fidesz party has ruled Hungary for 14 years.

Russian Soldier Opens Fire At Fellow Servicemen In Belgorod Region

Russian soldiers (file photo)
Russian soldiers (file photo)

A Russian soldier opened fire at fellow servicemen in the Belgorod region that borders Ukraine before fleeing the site. The governor of the Graivoron district, Gennady Bondarev, told the state RT news agency on July 12 that there were no civilian casualties, but he gave no further details, including whether other soldiers were killed or wounded. Several Telegram channels, however, reported that two soldiers were killed and one wounded in the incident, which took place overnight. Some Telegram channels identified the shooter as Aleksei Zhuravlyov from Russia's Republic of Chuvashia. Officials have not commented on the shooting. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Russian Service, click here.

OSCE Official Gets Jail Term For 'Spying' In Russian-Occupied Ukraine

Vehicles of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine in the Donetsk region in April 2020
Vehicles of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine in the Donetsk region in April 2020

A court in Ukraine's Russian-controlled Donetsk region on July 12 jailed a member of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine for "espionage" in a judgment condemned by the European security organization. The Supreme Court of the Russia-backed separatist group that calls itself the Donetsk People's Republic found Vadym Holda, 56, guilty and sentenced him to 14 years in a strict-regime penal colony, Russia's Prosecutor-General's Office said in a statement. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) condemned it as "a grave violation of participating states' commitments under international law" and called for the immediate release of Holda and two other jailed OSCE officials.

Updated

Former Georgian Officials Rue Near-Exclusion From NATO Declaration

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze (right) and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg leave talks in Tbilisi on March 18.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze (right) and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg leave talks in Tbilisi on March 18.

A former Georgian defense minister and Tbilisi's former ambassador to the United States have lamented the reduced language devoted to Georgia in the declaration that emerged from this week's NATO summit in Washington.

Pursuit of EU and NATO membership remains embedded in the post-Soviet Caucasus nation's constitution, but the current Georgian government's passage of a perceived Russian-style law to curb media and NGOs has dealt a blow to both efforts.

Whereas former declarations have mentioned Georgian cooperation with the transatlantic defense alliance, NATO members this week limited the text to a single reference urging Russia to completely withdraw its troops from Moldova and Georgia.

NATO allies controversially pledged in the 2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration that Georgia would eventually become a member, providing it fulfilled requirements.

That decision was reconfirmed in the wake of Russia's five-day war with Georgia in August 2008 and Russia's ongoing occupation of Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions.

Tina Khidasheli, Georgia's defense minister in 2015-16 and a critic of the current Georgian Dream government, told RFE/RL that she was shocked at the exclusion and hoped "that it is only temporary."

"I didn't have high expectations, but I didn't expect anything like that, that they would neither repeat the record of the Bucharest summit, nor talk about the NATO-Georgia program, nor mention the essential package of the Wales summit," she said.

A 2022 NATO summit in Madrid approved specific "support measures" for Georgia as a partner seemingly at risk from Russia after President Vladimir Putin ordered troops to invade Ukraine months earlier.

But EU officials have checked the momentum of Georgia's candidacy, and the United States has undertaken a "comprehensive review" of relations with Tbilisi since the so-called "foreign agent" law was passed in May over pro-European President Salome Zurabishvili's veto.

Prime Minister and Georgian Dream leader Irakli Kobakhidze, who in May accused a former U.S. ambassador of supporting two attempted revolutions in Georgia, responded to Washington's review by calling for a review of relations with the United States.

"The main issue regarding Georgia is that Georgia is no longer on the Euro-Atlantic agenda and that there has been a democratic backsliding in Georgia, which may bring irreparable consequences," Batu Kutelia, a former Georgian ambassador to the United States, told RFE/RL regarding the perceived NATO snub.

In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives is considering legislation calling for increased scrutiny of the Georgian government's actions and its ties to Russia and other authoritarian regimes like China.

The so-called Megobari Act passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee on July 11, a spokesman for Representative Joe Wilson (Republican-South Carolina) said on July 12.

The act, which takes its name from the word that means friend in Georgian, mandates several reports, including an assessment of Russian intelligence's penetration of Georgia and Tbilisi's cooperation with China.

Wilson, co-chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, said on X, formerly Twitter, that he was grateful for the passage of the measure, which makes it "very clear that we support the people of the nation of Georgia" and adding that the Georgian people "have made it clear they want to live in a free and democratic Georgia."

The bill is expected to come to a vote in the full House before Congress adjourns for summer break in August.

Wilson has said he wants the bill to become law ahead of Georgian elections in October.

Siberian Artist Gets 9 Years In Prison For Wiring $30 To Ukraine

Tatyana Laletina
Tatyana Laletina

The Tomsk regional court in Siberia said on July 11 that 21-year-old artist Tatyana Laletina had been handed a nine-year prison term two weeks earlier for wiring $10 to a Ukrainian fund on February 24, 2022, the day when Russia started its ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and then another $20 two months later. An associate of Laletina had said earlier that the artist was detained in late February for sending $30 to Ukraine. Further details of the case and how Laletina pleaded are unknown. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Siberia.Realities, click here.

Fake Security Officer Who Extorted Bribes From Foreigner Arrested In Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz authorities said on July 12 that a man who impersonated an officer for the State Committee for National Security was arrested two days earlier while reportedly accepting $3,000 from a Chinese national. Investigators allege the man had extorted $18,000 from the victim earlier, "promising" to close an unspecified probe launched against him. Several cases of impersonating law enforcement officers to extort money from foreigners have taken place in the Central Asian nation in the past. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, click here.

UN Condemns Russia, Urges 'Urgent Withdrawal' Of Forces From Ukrainian Nuclear Plant

A photo from 2023 of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, Europe's largest.
A photo from 2023 of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, Europe's largest.

The UN General Assembly on July 11 condemned "Moscow's failure to implement" resolutions concerning the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant by the assembly and by the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. It demanded that Russia "urgently withdraw its military and other unauthorized personnel" from the facility and "immediately return the plant to the full control of Ukraine’s competent authorities to ensure its safety and security." In a press statement, the UN said the vote was 99 in favor of the resolution, nine against, and 60 abstentions. The text also "demanded that the Russian Federation immediately cease its aggression against Ukraine and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from Ukraine’s territory within its internationally recognized borders."

Daghestani Man Reportedly Commits Suicide In Austria Before Deportation To Russia

Armed policemen patrol in the center of Vienna, Austria, following a shooting incident in November 2020.
Armed policemen patrol in the center of Vienna, Austria, following a shooting incident in November 2020.

Austrian media reported on July 11 that a native of Russia's North Caucasus region of Daghestan who was suspected of being a member of the Islamic State's Khorasan branch committed suicide hours before being deported to Russia. The 40-year-old man, whose identity was not disclosed, was suspected of being involved in plotting terrorist attacks on Catholic cathedrals in Vienna and the German city of Cologne. After police were unable to collect enough evidence to officially charge him, a decision was taken to deport him to Russia, reports said. To read the original story by RFER/RL's Caucasus.Realities, click here.

Montenegrin High Court Acquits Alleged 2016 Coup Plotters

Lawyers for the defense talk to reporters outside the High Court in Podgorica on July 11.
Lawyers for the defense talk to reporters outside the High Court in Podgorica on July 11.

The 13 Montenegrin, Russian, and Serbian individuals accused of plotting an election-day coup in Montenegro in 2016 were acquitted of all charges by that Balkan country's High Court on July 12, marking the latest twist in a seven-year prosecutorial saga since authorities claimed to have thwarted a last-ditch conspiracy to derail Montenegro's NATO accession.

Prosecutors had alleged that the Russian-organized plot included plans to attack parliament and assassinate longtime leader and then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

But at the end of a retrial ordered in 2021, the three-judge panel decided "there was no evidence that the defendants were guilty of the crimes they were charged with, so they are acquitted," according to Judge Zoran Radovic.

The Special Prosecutor's Office is expected to appeal the acquittals.

The defendants include the current speaker of the Montenegrin parliament, Andrija Mandic, along with two other senior members of the pro-Russian, right-wing populist Democratic Front party.

Two Russians tried in absentia were accused of organizing and financing the purported coup attempt, along with a retired Serbian police commander and seven other Serbian nationals who were arrested on election day more than seven years ago.

An initial court decision in May 2019 over terrorism charges resulted in guilty verdicts and a combined 70 years in prison for the defendants before that ruling was overturned in 2021.

Russia has resisted calls for the handover of alleged plotters Eduard Sismakov and Vladimir Popov.

On July 11, Judge Radovic said that, in order for someone to be declared guilty, there must be certainty in the facts, "and there is none."

He said the weapons alleged to have been organized for the coup attempt "never entered Montenegro, the equipment that was supposed to be used for the forced entry into the Assembly was not brought into Montenegro, and the claim that the special units were supposed to shoot at the Montenegrin police has not been proven."

Neither the special prosecutors nor the accused were present at the announcement of the acquittal.

Mandic and the other Montenegrin suspects accused Djukanovic of political retaliation against the then-opposition through the Special Prosecutor's Office.

Federal Penitentiary Service Chief In Russia's Rostov Resigns After Hostage Crisis

Police officers stand near detention center No.1 in Rostov-on-Don during a hostage crisis on June 16.
Police officers stand near detention center No.1 in Rostov-on-Don during a hostage crisis on June 16.

The chief of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) in Russia's southwestern Rostov region, Dmitry Berzrukikh, and his deputy resigned following a hostage-taking incident at detention center No.1 in the regional capital, Rostov-on-Don, last month. FSIN said on July 12 that, after an internal investigation, four FSIN officers were fired and 16 officers faced disciplinary repercussions. Six inmates of the detention center took two guards hostage on June 16. The hostages were released after special troops stormed the building, killing four hostage-takers. Two hostage-takers who survived were charged with belonging to Islamic groups banned in Russia. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Caucasus.Realities, click here.

Zelenskiy Hails Ukraine Compact As 'Important Achievement' For Kyiv, Others

U.S. President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, attend a Ukraine Compact event on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Washington on July 11.
U.S. President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, attend a Ukraine Compact event on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Washington on July 11.

WASHINGTON -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed a new agreement on long-term support for Ukraine finalized at this week's NATO summit in Washington as an "important achievement" and praised the U.S. leadership for its "decisive action" to ensure Ukrainian security.

The conclusion of the so-called "Ukraine Compact" committing the United States and more than 20 countries plus the European Union to help protect Ukraine was announced by U.S. President Joe Biden at a joint press conference alongside other NATO leaders and Zelenskiy at the close of the summit on July 11.

NATO Summit Ends With Promises To Ukraine, New Scrutiny Of Biden
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"This Ukrainian agreement, which we are concluding, takes our relations to a new level," Zelenskiy said. "It is an important achievement for Ukraine and all of us."

"I thank President Biden for his leadership and efforts to ensure that our security cooperation is full of decisive action," Zelenskiy said. "There are 23 strong agreements, and there will be agreements with other countries. And we have a historically important security agreement with the United States."

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's full-scale invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

He said the agreement had helped Kyiv acquire crucially important air-defense systems to help fight off Russia's ongoing, 28-month-old full-scale invasion.

Twenty-four NATO leaders and Ukraine approved the compact as part of boosted defense and other commitments to Ukraine.

The signatories also pledged to meet "rapidly and collectively" at the highest level in the event of a future attack by Russia on Ukraine after the cessation of the current conflict.

Biden has called the compact a "central part" of the "bridge" on Ukraine's path toward NATO.

"[H]ere today, with all these important people behind me, we take another important step in our collective support for Ukraine," Biden told the press conference. "Last year, the G7 nations...signed on to a declaration to protect Ukraine long term, not just for the duration of this war but beyond, after they win. Twenty-five additional countries quickly joined them and pledged to negotiate and sign a bilateral security agreement with Ukraine."

Biden said "more countries are finalizing theirs as we speak."

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at the summit that the alliance was “putting in place the foundations for Ukraine to prevail” in its effort to defend itself against Russia and said the alliance “cannot and will not allow this to happen again.”

“Violence and intimidation do not pay,” Stoltenberg said.

Orban Takes Solo 'Peace Mission' To Mar-A-Lago, Says Trump Is 'Going To Solve It'

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (left) meets Donald Trump at Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida on July 11.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (left) meets Donald Trump at Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida on July 11.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met with former U.S. President and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Florida on July 11 after the Central European leader's attendance at NATO's 75th anniversary summit in Washington concluded earlier the same day.

Orban asserted that the visit was part of a self-styled "peace mission" that he has been conducting despite objections from Brussels since Hungary took over the six-month rotating EU Council presidency this month, taking him to Kyiv, Moscow, and Beijing en route to the NATO event.

"We discussed ways to make #peace," Orban tweeted after the meeting with Trump, adding, "The good news of the day: he’s going to solve it!"

EU leaders have repeatedly distanced themselves from Orban's "peace mission," and Orban has acknowledged that he has no authority to act on other EU members' behalf stemming from the council presidency.

Orban has publicly endorsed Trump's candidacy and raised eyebrows by planning the visit to the billionaire U.S. politicians' Mar-a-Lago resort after holding no such bilateral meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the summit.

Critics accuse Orban of adopting Kremlin talking points since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, and Budapest has undermined Western sanctions and refused to join fellow EU and NATO allies in helping arm Kyiv to beat back the invasion.

Trump has suggested that if elected in November he will resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict even before he takes office, without elaborating.

Last month during a podcast interview, Trump blamed the war on Ukraine’s possible NATO membership, raising concerns that he may block the country from joining the alliance as part of any potential peace deal.

Hungary has raised doubts about Ukraine's membership in the alliance, saying it risks open conflict with Russia.

"Ukraine's admission wouldn't strengthen but weaken the alliance's unity, as there are completely different viewpoints on their membership," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on July 11.

The United States and NATO allies criticized Orban’s uncoordinated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month. It was seen as a rogue move by the leader of a NATO country.

Orban's opposition to Ukraine's NATO bid has been watched closely during the summit, but allies said on July 11 that they did not see it denting Kyiv's eventual alliance membership.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed Orban in Kyiv but said he had not in any way endorsed the Hungarian prime minister's mediation efforts in Moscow or beyond.

“The U.S. position, the Biden administration position is: Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. So whatever adventurism is being undertaken without Ukrainians' consent or support is not something that's consistent with our policy or the policy of the United States,” Biden’s national-security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told reporters July 11 on the sidelines of the summit.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters at the NATO summit on July 11 that the Hungarian leader does not represent the opinion of the European Union or NATO. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olah Scholz also expressed frustration with Orban. Macron said it was legitimate for Orban to travel to Russia as the Hungarian prime minister, but not on behalf of the European Union.

NATO Summit Ends With Promises To Ukraine, New Scrutiny Of Biden
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On July 10, Orban said he would not sign on to the so-called Ukraine Compact, a shared pledge among more than 20 NATO to support Ukraine both now and for the long term.

In a video statement posted to his X account, the Hungarian prime minister said that NATO was "behaving more and more like a war organization," citing the alliance's military support for Ukraine.

In a communique issued during the summit, NATO members said that Ukraine’s path into NATO was “irreversible.” When asked about the potential Orban-Trump meeting, outgoing NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it "doesn't undermine or reduce the importance of what we have agreed" at the summit.

Moldova Encouraged By NATO's Call For Withdrawal Of Russian Troops From Transdniester

Moldovan Foreign Minister Mihai Popsoi (file photo)
Moldovan Foreign Minister Mihai Popsoi (file photo)

WASHINGTON -- Moldovan Foreign Minister Mihai Popsoi said it is encouraging to Moldova that a declaration issued at the NATO summit in Washington calls on Russia to withdraw all its forces from Moldova and also welcomes Moldova’s reform efforts.

“We are happy to see Moldova mentioned and also the acknowledgement of the...positive efforts that we are [making] to reform the Republic of Moldova, but also the call for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Republic of Moldova, which is a very important message,” Popsoi, who is also a deputy prime minister, told RFE/RL on July 11 on the sidelines of the summit.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu has repeatedly demanded an end to the presence in Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region of hundreds of Russian troops at a Soviet-era weapons depot.

The declaration agreed upon by the leaders of the 32 NATO countries on July 10 has one sentence about the withdrawal of all Russian forces from Moldova. It also has one sentence on Moldova’s efforts to continue democratic reforms.

Popsoi said at a panel discussion at the summit that, while there is always room for improvement, Moldova has been on the agenda of its friends and partners in NATO and the European Union and has “received remarkable support in the last few years.”

This was especially true during the energy crisis that rocked Moldova as a result of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, he said, adding that the crisis has eased recently thanks to the resilience of the Moldovan people and “the generous support of the international community that has come to the rescue of not just Ukraine, but also the Republic of Moldova.”

Popsoi said Moldova and the Moldovan people have also made achievements on their own, citing energy independence from Gazprom after 30 years of being tied to the Russian energy giant.

“Russian gas contracts come with significant political strings attached and we suffered more than our fair share through this political blackmail,” he said.

He also touted the 30 years that Moldova has been in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and its contributions to peacekeeping missions in Kosovo, Lebanon, Somalia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, saying that Moldova is “firmly committed to be not just a security consumer given our challenges, given the Russia-backed separatists region.”

Popsoi told RFE/RL that Moldova now has a chance to make further progress through accession talks with the European Union that began on June 25.

“We count on the accession process helping us advance when it comes to our economic circumstances, but also democratic institutions,” he said, calling the accession negotiations “a key priority for us” and a chance to fulfill the “sincere craving of our citizens to return to the European family of nations.”

Whether Moldovans are hungry enough to become part of the EU will be tested on October 20 when a referendum on joining the 27-nation bloc takes place alongside the country’s presidential election.

Popsoi said Sandu’s government is counting on the citizens of Moldova to back the referendum.

“There's a lot of attempts to divide us domestically, to paint a negative picture of what we want to achieve. And this referendum is another democratic exercise for the Moldovan people to speak out,” he said. “And we are confident that they will support a prosperous, a peaceful future for their children in the European family of nations.”

On joining NATO, he said the question is being debated in Moldova, where “you don't need to look far” to see the risks of the region, he said.

He said many Moldovans believe that neutrality ensures security but "that is, of course, a questionable proposition in light of historic experience,” adding, “But nonetheless, in a democratic society, we need to abide by the will of the majority, and for now, there is not a majority in Moldova that would support NATO membership.”

Australia Charges Russian-Born Married Couple With Espionage

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese warned anyone considering acting against Australia's national security. (file photo)
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese warned anyone considering acting against Australia's national security. (file photo)

Australia said on July 12 that it had arrested a Russian-born married couple on espionage charges, alleging that the woman who was an information-systems technician in the Australian Army sought to access defense material and send it to Russian officials. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said the couple, who hold Australian citizenship, worked to access material related to Australia's national security though no significant compromise had been identified yet. The AFP said the woman, 40, traveled to Russia and instructed her husband in Australia to log into her official account to access defense materials. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese warned anyone considering acting against Australia's national security.

Biden Positions Himself As Defender Of NATO And Ukraine Following ‘Putin’ Gaffe At Summit

U.S. President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (right) during the NATO summit on July 11. Biden introduced Zelenskiy as "President Putin" before quickly correcting himself.
U.S. President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (right) during the NATO summit on July 11. Biden introduced Zelenskiy as "President Putin" before quickly correcting himself.

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Joe Biden, speaking in a highly anticipated news conference following the conclusion of the NATO summit in Washington on July 11, stressed his efforts building partnerships to oppose Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and said he would “keep NATO strong.”

"For those who thought NATO's time had passed, they got a rude awakening when [Russian President Vladimir] Putin invaded Ukraine," Biden said.

In an eight-minute opening address that often took on the appearance of a campaign speech at a time when his pursuit of a second presidential term is being openly questioned, Biden lauded his early action in alerting the world that Russia was about to invade its neighbor and in building a coalition of partners to oppose it.

Biden said that Putin thought that Ukraine would fall “in less than a week,” but that the country “still stands.” He also said that he would do everything to “end the war now.”

The press appearance was seen as a pivotal moment in Biden’s attempts to overcome his disastrous performance during his debate two weeks ago against Donald Trump, his presumptive Republican opponent in the November presidential election.

The 81-year-old Biden’s tired appearance and verbal missteps during the June 27 debate fueled doubts about his ability to beat Trump or to serve a full second term should he win. Calls have grown among Democratic supporters and elected officials for Biden to end his campaign, although high-ranking party figures have continued to support his bid to win a second term in office.

Going into what some described as a make-or-break press appearance following the NATO summit, Biden was already facing criticism for mistakenly referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as “President Putin.”

Early on in the press conference, Biden made another gaffe when he mistakenly referred to Trump as his “vice president.”

When pressed by reporters during a 50-minute question-and-answer session about his fitness for another term, Biden made his case for continuing his campaign, saying neurological exams showed that he was “in good shape” and insisting that he was the “best qualified to govern” the United States.

In the aftermath of a NATO summit in which the alliance boosted its support for Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself against Russia and referred to China as a “decisive enabler” of Moscow’s war effort, Biden said that in the event of future negotiations with Russian President Putin or Chinese President Xi Jinping, he was “ready to deal with them now, and in three years.”

However, he added, that he was not ready to talk to Putin "unless Putin is ready to change his behavior."

“The idea that we're going to be able to fundamentally change Russia in the near term is not likely,” Biden said. “But one thing is for certain, if we allow Russia to succeed in Ukraine, they're not stopping at Ukraine."

Biden said, however, that the United States would take a cautious approach on the issue of allowing Ukraine to launch deep strikes into Russian territory.

"We're making on a day-to-day basis on what they should and shouldn't do, how far they should go in,” Biden said. “That's a logical thing to do."

The comments came after Ukrainian President Zelenskiy pressed NATO leaders to lift all restrictions against Kyiv using their donated weaponry to launch long-range strikes onto Russian territory if they want to see Ukraine defeat Russia’s invading forces.

“If he [Zelenskiy] had the capacity to strike Moscow, strike the Kremlin, would that make sense? It wouldn’t," Biden said.

The United States in early May gave Kyiv the green light to use U.S. weapons to strike just over the border on Russian territory to help Ukraine beat back a major Russian offensive near Kharkiv.

Biden, in a meeting with Zelenskiy earlier in the day, said he was pleased to announce the allocation of new aid to Ukraine to help it defeat Russia.

"We will stay with you, period," Biden said ahead of bilateral talks.

The United States later announced it would be sending $225 million worth of military equipment to Ukraine, the eight tranche since the passage of a $61 billion aid package in April. The latest tranche includes a Patriot missile battery, anti-aircraft systems and munitions, as well as artillery ammunition and rockets.

During his press appearance following the end of the NATO summit, Biden positioned himself as a protector of the alliance, while casting Trump as a danger.

Biden accused Trump, who during his presidency from 2017 to 2021 often criticized NATO members and suggested he might pull the United States out of the alliance, as having “no commitment to NATO.”

“He’s made it clear that he would feel no obligation to honor Article 5,” Biden said of Trump, referring to the NATO defense pact that requires the alliance to respond in the event any individual member state is attacked.

Biden also claimed that during the NATO summit, other leaders had told him that another Trump presidency would be a “disaster.”

"I've not had any of my European allies come up here and say 'Joe, don't run,'" Biden told reporters. "What I hear them say is 'You've gotta win. You can't let this guy [Trump] come forward, he'd be a disaster.'"

After Biden’s gaffe in which he introduced Ukrainian President Zelenskiy as “President Putin” before quickly correcting himself, some NATO leaders came to his defense.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that Biden was “in charge” during the two-day summit, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that "slips of tongue happen.”

During the question-and-answer session, however, at least one reporter suggested that NATO officials had said off the record that Biden's "decline had become noticeable."

U.S., NATO Allies Criticize Orban Amid Reports Of Trump Meeting

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (left) is seen during a visit to the Florida home of former U.S. President and expected Republican nominee Donald Trump in March.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (left) is seen during a visit to the Florida home of former U.S. President and expected Republican nominee Donald Trump in March.

WASHINGTON -- The United States and NATO allies criticized Viktor Orban’s secret meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, as the Hungarian prime minister prepared to travel after the NATO summit to visit with the presumptive Republican nominee in the upcoming U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's full-scale invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensive, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

Orban's unexpected visit to Russia, which in February 2022 launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine that NATO has opposed, was seen as a rogue move by the leader of a NATO country.

Orban's opposition to Ukraine's NATO bid has been watched closely during the summit, but allies said on July 11 that they did not see it denting Kyiv's eventual alliance membership.

The Hungarian leader, who took over the six-month rotating EU Presidency at the start of July, made a secret trip to Moscow to discuss with Putin an end to Russia's invasion of Ukraine without informing the bloc or NATO allies. The visit came on the eve of the July 9-11 NATO summit in Washington hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden.

“The U.S. position, the Biden administration position is: Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. So whatever adventurism is being undertaken without Ukrainians' consent or support is not something that's consistent with our policy or the policy of the United States,” Biden’s national-security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told reporters July 11 on the sidelines of the summit.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis criticized Orban’s visit to Moscow, telling reporters at the summit on July 11 that the Hungarian leader does not represent the opinion of the European Union or NATO. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olah Scholz also expressed frustration with Orban. Macron said it was legitimate for Orban to travel to Russia as the Hungarian prime minister, but not on behalf of the European Union.

Orban, Landsbergis, Macron and Scholz were among the leaders and top officials from all 32 NATO countries taking part in the annual summit, where the main topic of discussion was military aid for Ukraine.

On July 10, Orban said he would not sign on to the so-called Ukraine Compact, a shared pledge among more than 20 NATO to support Ukraine both now and for the long-term.

In a video statement posted to his X account, the Hungarian prime minister said that NATO was "behaving more and more like a war organization," citing the alliance's military support for Ukraine.

Orban is reportedly flying to Florida after the summit to meet with Trump. The Republican contender has claimed that, should he win the election, he would negotiate a deal between Ukraine and Russia before his January 2025 inauguration. He has not given any details about his alleged peace plan.

The Hungarian leader, who recently met Trump in Florida in March, has made clear that he backs the Republican candidate in the 2024 election.

The possible return of Trump to the presidency has partially overshadowed the 2024 summit. During his four years in the presidency from 2017 to 2021, Trump repeatedly criticized NATO members for their failure to meet the defense spending target of 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and even raised the idea of pulling the United States out of the alliance.

During a campaign rally on July 10, Trump took pride in having grilled NATO members and spoke of his first days in office in 2017.

“I didn’t know what the hell NATO was too much before. But it didn’t take me long to figure it out -- like about two minutes. And the first thing I figured out was they were not paying. We were paying. We were paying almost fully for NATO. And I said that’s unfair,” he said.

Last month during a podcast interview, Trump blamed the war on Ukraine’s possible NATO membership, raising concerns that he may block the country from joining the alliance as part of a peace deal.

Hungary has also raised doubts about Ukraine's membership in the alliance, saying it risks open conflict with Russia.

"Ukraine's admission wouldn't strengthen but weaken the alliance's unity, as there are completely different viewpoints on their membership," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on July 11.

In the communique reached during the summit, NATO members said that Ukraine’s path into NATO was “irreversible.” When asked about the potential Orban-Trump meeting, outgoing NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it "doesn't undermine or reduce the importance of what we have agreed" at the summit.

Stoltenberg also said he did not think a change in leadership in Washington would result in the United States leaving the alliance, especially as the threat from China grows.

"The reality is that NATO makes the United States stronger and safer, and this is a strong argument for the United States to continue to support and remain a loyal and committed NATO ally," Stoltenberg said.

The NATO chief also said that Trump's biggest complaint -- that of allies' failure to meet defense spending targets -- has been significantly addressed, with 23 members now spending 2 percent or more of GDP. Just 9 members were at the target when Trump left office.

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