Keir Starmer will make his debut on the international stage as Britain’s premier when he flies to Washington DC for the NATO summit next week, which is expected to include discussions on support for Ukraine. He is also due to host the European Political Community summit in the UK on 18 July. Starmer gathered his cabinet for first time in No 10 this morning. It is almost identical to shadow team, with new PM understood to favour stability, and plans to keep them in post. Starmer’s cabinet will have the highest number of state-educated and female ministers in history, as Rachel Reeves became the first female chancellor ever, although ethnic representation has fallen - The Guardian

Viktor Orbán met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday, prompting an outcry from his EU and Nato allies who warned that the Hungarian prime minister did not represent them. The unannounced trip is a stark demonstration of Orbán’s position as one of the west’s most pro-Russian leaders, in what officials said breached diplomatic protocol and undermined EU and Nato unity. Irbán, whose country took over the rotating EU presidency on Monday, arrived in Russia just days after a surprise trip to Kyiv — his first since Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, in an apparent effort to broker peace between the two sides. Speaking to reporters in the Kremlin after the three-hour meeting with Putin, Orbán said he had realised Ukraine and Russia’s stances were “very far from one another”. Putin demanded a “full and final end to the conflict”, which he said required Ukraine to surrender four of its eastern provinces to Russia. Russia also had “other conditions”, Putin said, which have previously included a demand that Ukraine pledges never to join Nato. Ukraine has said Putin’s terms amount to capitulation and would leave the country vulnerable to further attacks. Orbán said he would continue to work on a possible end to the war during the six months his country holds the EU’s presidency. “There are almost no countries left that are in contact with both sides. Hungary is one of them.” But several EU leaders stressed that they had not mandated the Hungarian premier to speak on their behalf, a position also underlined by Nato’s leadership. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday said Orbán was in Moscow not as a representative of the rotating EU presidency but as Hungarian PM. Scholz said the EU’s attitude was clear: “We condemn the Russian war of aggression.” - FT

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Member of N. Korean Delegation Reportedly Drowned in Moscow
Other Topics of Interest

Member of N. Korean Delegation Reportedly Drowned in Moscow

Initial reports said the deceased was the head of an elite military training delegation from Pyongyang that arrived in recent weeks following Moscow and Pyongyang’s new security pact.

Marine Le Pen, figurehead of the French far-right National Rally (RN) party, vowed a prime minister from her party would prevent Kyiv using French-supplied long-range weapons to strike inside Russia and would stymie French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion he might put French boots on Ukrainian soil. “If Emmanuel Macron wants to send troops to Ukraine and the prime minister is against it, then there are no troops sent to Ukraine,” she told CNN. “The prime minister has the final say.” With polls pointing towards the National Rally holding the biggest share of the 577 seats in the National Assembly come Monday morning, although potentially not achieving an absolute majority, Macron will likely offer them the chance to choose the country’s next prime minister. Le Pen’s youthful disciple and party leader Jordan Bardella has previously said he will only accept the premiership if National Rally wins by a large enough margin. - CNN

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Reformist Masoud Pezeshkian has been elected as Iran's new president, beating his hardline conservative rival Saeed Jalili. The vote was declared in Dr Pezeshkian's favour after he secured 53.3% of the more than 30 million votes counted. Mr Jalili polled at 44.3%. The run-off came after no candidate secured a majority in the first round of the election on 28 June, which saw a historically low voter turnout of 40%. The election was called after Iran’s previous president Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash in May, in which seven others also died. - BBC

More than 50 candidates and activists in France have come under physical attack in the run-up to Sunday's tense final round of parliamentary elections, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has said. He revealed the figure after government spokeswoman Prisca Thevenot, her deputy Virginie Lanlo and a party activist were brutally assaulted as they put up election posters in Meudon, south-west of Paris. The motive for the attack is not clear, but Ms Thevenot returned to Meudon on Thursday with Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who condemned what he called "attacks of intolerable cowardice". The spate of assaults across France reflects the febrile mood on the final day of campaigning in an election that the far-right National Rally (RN) is poised to win. - BBC

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The Russian navy's Black Sea Fleet has been forced to rebase nearly all its combat-ready warships from occupied Crimea to other locations, and its main naval hub is becoming ineffectual because of attacks by Kyiv, Ukraine's navy chief said. Vice-Admiral Oleksiy Neizhpapa said Ukrainian missile and naval drone strikes had caused heavy damage to the Sevastopol base, a logistics hub for repairs, maintenance, training and ammunition storage among other important functions for Russia. “They were established over many decades, possibly centuries. And clearly they are now losing this hub," Neizhpapa told Reuters in a rare interview in the port city of Odesa ahead of Ukraine Navy Day on Sunday. Ukraine, which has no major warships at its disposal, has used uncrewed naval boats packed with explosives to target Russian vessels, and pounded the fleet's facilities and other military targets on Crimea with Storm Shadow and ATACM missiles. “Almost all the main combat-ready ships have been moved by the enemy from the main base of the Black Sea Fleet, and the ships are kept in Novorossiisk, and some of them are kept in the Sea of Azov," he said. - Reuters

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A Bosnian man arrested in connection with the audacious escape of Russian businessman Artyom Uss from Italian arrest has been released and is now cooperating with Italian investigators. U.S. prosecutors, meanwhile, have for now dropped their extradition request against the man, Vladimir Jovancic, who also faces a U.S. indictment for aiding Uss's March 2023 escape. Jovancic's release from Croatian detention, and the halt to U.S. extradition proceedings, neither of which has been reported previously, are small but significant developments in the continuing investigation of how Uss -- the politically connected son of a powerful Russian governor -- managed to slip out of Italy on the eve of his extradition to the United States. Uss had been arrested by Italy after being charged by the U.S. Justice Department with overseeing an elaborate smuggling network that had secretly shipped Western military technology to Russia -- some of which had ended up on Ukrainian battlefields. - RFE/RL

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