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News24.com | ‘Don’t Be Bullied’, US Speaker Pelosi Tells Zelensky

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US speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged Ukraine not to be bullied by bullies.Pelosi is the most senior US official to visit the Ukraine to date.Last week, US President Joe Biden proposed a huge $33-billion package for arming and supporting Ukraine.

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urged Ukraine not to back down in the face of “bullies” like Russia on Sunday following a surprise weekend visit to Kyiv.

“Do not be bullied by bullies. If they are making threats, you cannot back down. That’s my view of it,” she told a news conference in the Polish city of Rzeszow, a day after talks in the Ukrainian capital with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“We are here for the fight and you cannot fold to a bully.”

Her unannounced trip to Kyiv made her the most senior US official to visit the Ukrainian capital to date, following visits by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin last month.

“We are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom… Our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done,” Pelosi told Zelensky when they met, footage of which was released by his office.

In a tweet, Zelensky thanked the United States “for helping protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state” and for “leading strong support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression”.

Pelosi told the news conference their talks had focused on “security, humanitarian assistance, economic assistance and eventually rebuilding when victory is won”.

“We leave with a firmer understanding and more current understanding of what needs to be done, with a deeper appreciation and inspiration from those who are in the fight,” she said.

Representative Jason Crow, a military veteran and House Intelligence Committee member, said it was essential the Ukrainians “have what they need to win”.

“We are not interested in stalemates, we are not interested in going back to the status quo. The United States of America is in this to win it and with Ukraine until victory is won.”

– ‘More advanced drones’ –

He said he had come to Ukraine with three areas of focus – “weapons, weapons and weapons”.

The nature of the war was evolving, with the conflict shifting from the north to the south and the east, which involved much more open terrain and a shift in terms of weaponry needs, said Crow, who is also on the House Armed Services Committee.

“You’re more likely to see long-range rocket fire, long-range artillery fire, the use of armoured personnel carriers to move troops, tank formations, as opposed to the smaller ambushes and unconventional tactics that we saw in the early stages of this war,” he said.

“So the next phase of our support is starting to look like that too. You’re starting to see artillery, longer-range fires, more advanced drones, counter-artillery radar systems, things that will help the Ukrainians better engage at further distances.”

Last week, Biden proposed a huge $33-billion package for arming and supporting Ukraine, and Pelosi said Washington was “already passing into legislation the initiatives” he had raised.

The US leader also outlined proposed new laws to allow using luxury assets stripped from Russian oligarchs to compensate Ukraine for the destruction caused by the war.

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News24.com | Thousands Protest in Madrid Against NATO Summit

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A crowd demonstrates against NATO.

Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto

Carrying the hammer and sickle flags of the former Soviet Union, thousands protested in Madrid on Sunday against a NATO summit which will take place in the Spanish capital next week.

Amid tight security, leaders of the member countries will meet in Madrid between 29-30 June as the organisation faces the unprecedented challenge of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

NATO is expected to consider the bid, opposed by alliance-member Turkey, for Finland and Sweden to join.

The Nordic nations applied in the wake of the Russian assault on Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the war a special military operation he says in part responds to the accession to NATO of other countries near post-Soviet Russia’s borders since the 1990s.

READ | Biden said Putin’s goal of weakening NATO by invading Ukraine backfired spectacularly

“Tanks yes, but of beer with tapas,” sang demonstrators, who claimed an increase in defence spending in Europe urged by NATO was a threat to peace.

“I am fed up (with) this business of arms and killing people. The solution they propose is more arms and wars and we always pay for it. So, no NATO, no (army) bases, let the Americans go and leave us alone without wars and weapons,” said Concha Hoyos, a retired Madrid resident, told Reuters.

Another protester, Jaled, 29, said NATO was not the solution to the war in Ukraine.

Organisers claimed 5,000 people joined the march, but authorities in Madrid put the number at 2 200.

READ | Pandor says Finland’s bid to join NATO indicates a decline in international security

Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday that the summit would also focus on the threat from Europe’s southern flank in Africa, in which he said Russia posed a threat to Europe.

“The foreign ministers’ dinner on the 29th will be centred on the southern flank,” he told El Pais newspaper.

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News24.com | Turkey Police Break up Istanbul Pride March, Detain Dozens: AFP

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Hakan Akgun/dia images

Turkish police on Sunday forcibly intervened in a Pride march in Istanbul, detaining dozens of demonstrators and an AFP photographer, AFP journalists on the ground said.

The governor’s office had banned the march around Taksim square in the heart of Istanbul but protesters gathered nearby under heavy police presence earlier than scheduled.

Police detained protesters, loading them into buses. AFP journalists saw two buses of people who had been held, including AFP’s chief photographer Bulent Kilic, who had been handcuffed from the back.

Kilic, who was also detained last year during the Pride march, is currently in police custody.

Hundreds of protesters carrying rainbow flags pressed ahead with the rally in defiance of police.

Although homosexuality has been legal throughout the period of the modern Turkish republic, LGBTQ individuals point to regular harassment and abuse.

Istanbul Pride has taken place every year since 2003.

The last march which took place without a ban – in 2014 – drew tens of thousands of participants in one of the biggest LGBTQ events in the majority Muslim region.

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News24.com | NASA Blasts Off From Australian Outback in ‘historic’ Launch

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NASA’s first-ever launch from a commercial site outside of the United States blasted off from Australia’s Outback late Sunday, in a “historic” moment for the country’s space industry.

In the first of three planned launches from the Arnhem Space Centre, the rocket, carrying technology likened to a “mini Hubble” telescope, lifted off — blasted about 350 kilometres (218 miles) into the night sky.

“It is a momentous occasion for us as a company in particular, but it’s historic for Australia,” Equatorial Launch Australia CEO Michael Jones told AFP ahead of the lift-off.

Jones, whose company owns and operates the launch site in the far north of Australia, described it as a “coming out” party for the country’s space industry and said the chance to work with NASA was a milestone for commercial space firms in the country.

After a series of rain and wind delays, the suborbital sounding rocket soared into the sky to study x-rays emanating from the Alpha Centauri A and B systems.

After reaching its apogee, the rocket’s payload was to capture data on the star systems before parachuting back to earth.

READ | NASA is slowly powering down the Voyager probes. Here are 18 photos from its 45-year mission.

According to NASA, the launch offers a unique glimpse of the distant systems and unlocked fresh possibilities for scientists.

“We’re excited to be able to launch important science missions from the Southern Hemisphere and see targets that we can’t from the United States,” Nicky Fox, NASA’s Heliophysics Division director in Washington, said on announcing the mission.

Jones said the unique location had made preparations hard, with years of work to get regulatory approval and the need to haul rockets on barges to the launch site – about 28 hours drive from Darwin in northern Australia.

“I think for the team, it’s gonna be, you know, a huge relief that it’s done,” he said.

READ | ‘Giant leap forward’ – South Korea space rocket launch puts satellites in orbit

But with the next launch already looming on July 4, the break would be short-lived.

“We need to, you know, dust ourselves off, take a day off and then get back into it in readiness for the next launch because it’s just as important.”

It is the first NASA rocket to launch from Australia since 1995, and the project was hailed as the start of a “new era” for the country’s space industry by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

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