Welcome to Wednesday, where a war crime suspect has been freed in Sudan after a prison break-out, the Taliban report the killing of the Islamic State leader believed to be behind the 2021 Kabul airport bombing, and we mourn the death of “Calypso King” Harry Belafonte. Meanwhile, in Ukrainian news website Livy Bereg, Oleksandr Kalinichenko looks at Ukraine’s expectations ahead of the July NATO summit.
• Sudan latest: Ahmed Haroun, a former Sudanese politician wanted for alleged crimes against humanity has said that he and other former officials are no longer in jail. Haroun and others reportedly escaped from Kober prison, where former president Omar al-Bashir is also held. Haroun faces charges in the International Criminal Court. Meanwhile, a ceasefire in Sudan seems to be holding.
• Putin signs decree to control two foreign firms’ assets: President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree taking temporary control of Russian subsidiaries of two foreign energy firms – Germany’s Uniper and Finland’s Fortum Oyj – signaling that Moscow could take similar action against other international companies if Russian assets abroad are seized.
• Taliban kill IS leader behind Kabul airport bombing: Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban have killed an Islamic State leader believed to have planned the 2021 Kabul airport bombing, which killed 170 civilians and 13 U.S. soldiers as people fled the Taliban advance into Kabul. The killing happened weeks ago, but U.S. officials said it took time to confirm his death.
• Singapore executes man for trafficking cannabis: Singapore executed Tangaraju Suppiah, 46, on Wednesday over a plot to smuggle 1kg (35oz) of cannabis, despite pleas for clemency from his family, activists and the United Nations. Activists said the evidence against Suppiah was poor, and that he had limited legal counsel during the trial.
• British American Tobacco to pay $635m for North Korea sanctions breaches: British American Tobacco will pay $635m (£512m) plus interest to U.S. authorities after a subsidiary admitted to selling cigarettes to North Korea, in violation of international sanctions imposed on the country over its nuclear and ballistic missile activities.
• Japan’s Moon lander goes MIA: Flight controllers lost contact on Tuesday with a Japanese lunar lander carrying a rover developed in the United Arab Emirates. It would have been the first time a commercially developed spacecraft landed on the Moon, but the company says the craft is believed to have been lost.
• Harry Belafonte dies at 96: Harry Belafonte, the singer, songwriter and actor who started his entertainment career belting “Day O” in his 1950s hit song “Banana Boat,” before turning to political activism, has died in New York at age 96. Belafonte worked with Martin Luther King Jr. during the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1960s, and was the driving force behind the celebrity-studded, famine-fighting 1980’s hit song “We Are the World.”
Spanish-language California-based daily La Opinión devotes its front page to Joe Biden’s “second round” after the U.S. president announced yesterday he will run for re-election in 2024, setting off a campaign that could result in a rematch of the 2020 clash with Donald Trump.
When will Ukraine join NATO? All eyes on Vilnius, and the frontline
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accepted an invitation to attend the next NATO summit in July. But he will arrive with expectations that the alliance is ready to pave the way for the country’s accession to the military alliance, even as the state of the war itself remains crucial to the decision, writes Oleksandr Kalinichenko for Ukrainian news website Livy Bereg.
🌐📄 For more than 20 years, no NATO candidate nation has avoided the alliance’s standard Membership Action Plan application procedure. That all changed last year when Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and Finland and Sweden abandoned their neutrality and applied for NATO membership. This set a precedent: the alliance decided that the two Scandinavian countries could skip the procedure. Now, Ukraine hopes to follow suit.
🇺🇦 Many parallels can be drawn between Ukraine and NATO’s Scandinavian newcomers. But there is one significant difference: the war, which has undermined Ukraine’s political and diplomatic efforts to get NATO membership in the short term. Despite support from member states, the alliance cannot afford to become a party to the war by providing Ukraine with guarantees during active hostilities.
❌ Some NATO members say Ukraine’s accession cannot be seriously discussed during the war. At the same time, the number of countries supporting a “political path” to membership for Ukraine is growing among Central and Eastern European states. But according to The Financial Times, the U.S., Germany and Hungary are against providing a roadmap for Ukraine’s membership in the alliance.
“Apologizing is sometimes the easiest thing to do.”
— Portuguese President Rebelo de Sousa has suggested that his country should issue a formal apology for Portugal’s role in the transatlantic slave trade, which would make him the first Portuguese leader to do so. Sousa’s comments came as Brazilian President Lula addressed the Portuguese parliament during his first visit to Europe since he was re-elected to the presidency this year. From the 15th to the 19th century, Portugal forcibly transported an estimated 6 million Africans across the Atlantic and sold them into slavery.
✍️ Newsletter by Emma Albright, Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat and Anne-Sophie Goninet