70% респондентів КМІС вважають, що Зеленський має залишатися президентом на час воєнного стану

«Загалом більшість українців (69%) мають нейтрально-позитивне ставлення» до Зеленського, підсумовують соціологи

В Офісі президента розповіли, за яких умов Росія може взяти участь у наступному Саміті миру

15-16 червня Швейцарія приймала Глобальний саміт миру, в якому брала участь понад сотня учасників. Росії й Китаю серед них не було

Homesick refugees risk return to Ukraine despite war

Nearly 6.5 million – that is the number of Ukrainian refugees the United Nations counts in the third year of Russia’s full-scale invasion. According to the world body’s latest report, most of them hope to return home one day. Lesia Bakalets talked to Ukrainians who have already done so. VOA footage by Vladyslav Smilianets.

Пекін, реагуючи на дані SIPRI про ядерний арсенал Китаю, нагадав про США

«Наша стратегія підтримує високий рівень стабільності, безперервності та передбачуваності» – заявили в МЗС Китаю

Пекін відмовилися коментувати комюніке Саміту миру

«Позиція Китаю щодо українського питання є послідовною і чіткою», – сказав речник речник МЗС КНР

СБУ підозрює генпродюсера російської ТРК «Крим» у пропаганді війни

«Навесні 2022 року Крючков організував трансляцію окупаційної телерадіокомпанії майже на всій тимчасово захопленій частині території нашої держави»

Ukraine peace summit ends with call for a ‘just peace’

Nearly 80 of the countries represented at the Ukraine peace summit agreed that territorial integrity and the principles of international law and the U.N. charter should be the basis for peace talks to end Russia’s war on Ukraine. Eastern Europe bureau chief Myroslava Gongadze has the story from Switzerland. VOA footage and editing by Daniil Batushchak.

China launches anti-dumping probe into EU pork imports

BEIJING — China said Monday it had launched an anti-dumping investigation into imports of pork products from the European Union.

The probe is in response to an application submitted on behalf of domestic producers, Beijing said, and comes in the face of mounting trade tensions between China and the EU.

“The Ministry of Commerce has opened an anti-dumping investigation into imports of relevant pork and pig by-products originating from the European Union,” the ministry said in a statement.

China has criticized the bloc’s decision last week to slap additional tariffs of up to 38 percent on Chinese electric car imports from next month after an anti-subsidy probe.

The European Commission pointed to “unfair subsidization” in China, which it said “is causing a threat of economic injury” to EU electric car makers.

Beijing warned the tariffs would “harm Europe’s own interests” and condemned the bloc’s “protectionism”.

Pork is China’s most popular meat and a staple of diets in the world’s second most populous nation.

US soldier tells Russian court he did not threaten to kill his girlfriend

ОП з’ясовує, чи справді деякі країни відкликали підписи під комюніке Саміту миру – радник Єрмака

Раніше зі списку підписантів Бюрґенштокського комюніке, за повідомленням міністерства закордонних справ Швейцарії, зникли Ірак та Йорданія

В оточенні Путіна лякають «більш жорсткими» умовами мирної угоди, якщо Київ відмовиться від останньої пропозиції

«Наступні умови будуть для України більш складними та жорсткішими» – заявив Сергій Наришкін

France begins frenetic campaign after Macron poll gamble

PARIS — France on Monday began less than a fortnight of frenetic election campaigning for snap polls called by President Emmanuel Macron to combat the far right, with star footballer Kylian Mbappe warning the country was at a historic crossroads.

Candidates had until Sunday evening to register for the 577 seats in the lower house National Assembly ahead of the official start of campaigning from midnight for the June 30 first round. The decisive second round takes place on July 7.

The alliance led by centrist Macron, who called the snap polls some three years early after the far right trounced his party in EU Parliament elections, is still lagging way behind with little chance of winning an outright majority itself.

Many in France, including ex-leaders, remain baffled over why Macron took the risk of calling an election that could see the far-right National Rally (RN) leading the government and its leader Jordan Bardella, 28, as prime minister.

One of the most high-profile of the last candidates to register was Marie-Caroline Le Pen, the elder sister of the RN’s three-time presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, who will stand for the party in the central Sarthe region.

Her daughter Nolwenn Olivier is Bardella’s ex-partner.

Mbappe, representing France at the Euro 2024 tournament in Germany, said he was “against extremes and divisive ideas” and urged young people to vote at a “crucial moment” in French history.

The striker defended comments made on Saturday by his teammate Marcus Thuram, saying he “had not gone too far” in calling on the country “to fight every day to stop” the RN winning the elections.

“Today we can all see that extremists are very close to winning power and we have the opportunity to choose the future of our country,” Mbappe said.

France’s men’s football team has long been seen as a beacon for diversity in the country. The French Football Federation has urged against “any form of pressure and political use of the French team”.

Macron’s dissolving of parliament after the French far right’s victory in the EU vote has swiftly redrawn the lines of French politics.

A new left-wing alliance, the New Popular Front that takes in Socialists and hard-leftists, faced its first crisis over the weekend after some prominent MPs from the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) party found they had not been put forward to stand again.

But Adrien Quatennens, a close ally of LFI figurehead Jean-Luc Melenchon, withdrew his candidacy which had sparked anger due to a conviction for domestic violence.

On the right, the decision of Eric Ciotti, the leader of the Republicans (LR), to seek an election pact with the RN provoked fury inside the party and a move by its leadership to dismiss him, which a Paris court blocked on Friday.

Adding to the chaos, the LR’s executive is now fielding a candidate to stand against Ciotti in his home region of Nice.

Watchdog: Nuclear-armed nations deepen reliance on nuclear weapons

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The world’s nine nuclear-armed states continue to modernize their nuclear weapons as the countries deepened their reliance on such deterrence in 2023, a Swedish think tank said Monday.

“We have not seen nuclear weapons playing such a prominent role in international relations since the Cold War,” said Wilfred Wan, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s weapons of mass destruction program.

Earlier this month, Russia and its ally Belarus launched a second stage of drills intended to train their troops in tactical nuclear weapons, part of the Kremlin’s efforts to discourage the West from ramping up support for Ukraine.

In a separate report, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, said the nine nuclear-armed states spent a combined total of $91.4 billion on their arsenals in 2023 – equivalent to $2,898 per second. The Geneva-based coalition of disarmament activists won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

The group said that figures show a $10.7 billion increase in global spending on nuclear weapons in 2023 compared with 2022, with the United States accounting for 80% of that increase. The U.S. share of total spending, $51.5 billion, is more than all the other nuclear-armed countries put together.

“There has been a notable upward trend in the amount of money devoted to developing these most inhumane and destructive of weapons over the past five years,” said Alicia Sanders-Zakre, Policy and Research Coordinator with ICAN.

The next biggest spender was China at $11.8 billion, she said, with Russia spending the third largest amount at $8.3 billion.

“All this money is not improving global security, in fact it’s threatening people wherever they live,” Sanders-Zakre said.

SIPRI estimated that about 2,100 of the deployed warheads were kept in a state of high operational alert on ballistic missiles, and nearly all belong to Russia or the U.S. However, it said China is also believed to have some warheads on high operational alert for the first time.

“Regrettably we continue to see year-on-year increases in the number of operational nuclear warheads,” said Dan Smith, SIPRI’s director. He added that the trend will likely accelerate in the coming years “and is extremely concerning.”

Russia and the United States have together almost 90% of all nuclear weapons, SIPRI said. The sizes of their military stockpiles seem to have remained relatively stable in 2023, although Russia is estimated to have deployed around 36 more warheads with operational forces than in January 2023, the watchdog added.

In its SIPRI Yearbook 2024, the institute said that transparency regarding nuclear forces has declined in both countries in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and debates around nuclear-sharing arrangements have increased in importance.

Washington suspended its bilateral strategic stability dialogue with Russia, and last year Moscow announced that it was suspending its participation in the New START nuclear treaty.

Of the total global inventory of an estimated 12,121 warheads in January, about 9,585 were in military stockpiles for potential use. An estimated 3,904 of those warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft — which is 60 more than in January 2023 — and the rest were in central storage.

In Asia, India, Pakistan and North Korea are all pursuing the capability to deploy multiple warheads on ballistic missiles, the institute said. The United States, Russia, France, U.K. and China have that capacity, enabling a rapid potential increase in deployed warheads, as well as the possibility for nuclear-armed countries to threaten the destruction of significantly more targets. The ninth nuclear nation is Israel.

SIPRI stressed that all estimates were approximate and that the institute revises its world nuclear forces data each year based on new information and updates to earlier assessments.

З 80 до 78 скоротилося число країн, які підписали Бюрґенштокське комюніке

15–16 червня Швейцарія приймала Глобальний саміт миру, в якому брала участь понад сотня учасників. Росії й Китаю серед них не було.

Adidas investigates bribery allegations in China, Financial Times says

Iran rebukes G7 statement over its nuclear program escalation

Dubai, UAE — Iran called upon the Group of Seven leaders Sunday to distance itself from “destructive policies of the past,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said, referring to a G7 statement condemning Iran’s recent nuclear program escalation.

On Friday, the G7 warned Iran against advancing its nuclear enrichment program and said it would be ready to enforce new measures if Tehran were to transfer ballistic missiles to Russia.

“Any attempt to link the war in Ukraine to the bilateral cooperation between Iran and Russia is an act with only biased political goals,” Kanaani said, adding that some countries are “resorting to false claims to continue sanctions” against Iran.

Last week, the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors passed a resolution calling on Iran to step up cooperation with the watchdog and reverse its recent barring of inspectors.

Iran responded by rapidly installing extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report.

Kanaani added Tehran would continue its “constructive interaction and technical cooperation” with the IAEA but called its resolution “politically biased.”

Iran is now enriching uranium to up to 60% purity, close to the 90% required for weapons grade — and has enough material enriched to that level, if enriched further, for three nuclear weapons — according to an IAEA yardstick.

Cyprus records second death from heatstroke as temperatures soar

Nicosia, Cyprus — A Cyprus health official said a second elderly person has died from heatstroke after a weeklong heatwave that baked the east Mediterranean island nation with reportedly record temperatures for the month of June.

An 84-year-old woman died a day after her admission to a hospital on Friday, said State Health Services Organization spokesman Charalambos Charilaou. He said another three elderly patients were in serious condition.

Temperatures on the island have soared all week, exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

The high temperatures and strong winds also have hampered firefighting efforts, including in a mountainous area southwest of the capital Nicosia, where over 3.2 square kilometers (1.2 square miles) of forest were scorched, threatening a village.

Last week, 49 residents in two communities in the island’s western Paphos district were evacuated to hotels as a wildfire threatened their homes, while aircraft from Greece and Jordan joined in firefighting efforts.

Swiss summit: Ukraine’s territorial integrity a precondition for peace

Наступний Саміт миру можуть провести до президентських виборів у США – глава МЗС Швейцарії

На момент завершення Саміту миру у Швейцарії не було ясно, де може відбутися наступна конференція

Президентка Швейцарії назвала досягнення Саміту миру, Зеленський розповів, якими будуть подальші кроки

Після саміту буде робота на більш технічному рівні – на рівні радників та міністрів у форматі спеціальних зустрічей

‘In seventh heaven,’ says Swede freed in Iran prisoner swap 

Stockholm — A Swede freed in a prisoner swap with Iran, 33-year-old EU diplomat Johan Floderus, said in his first words since his release that he was “in seventh heaven”, in a video published Sunday.

In the video obtained by AFP from the Swedish government, Floderus can be heard speaking to Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson by satellite phone while on a flight home from Iran on Saturday.

“I’m in the sky and I feel emotionally like I’m in seventh heaven. I’ve been waiting for this for almost 800 days,” an audibly exhilarated Floderus told a smiling Kristersson.

“I’ve dreamt of this day so many times,” he said, adding: “It’s beginning to sink in that I’ve left Iran’s airspace and am on my way home.”

Floderus could later be seen hugging his family members at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport after he landed, in images released by the Swedish government.

Floderus was arrested in Iran as he was about to return home from a holiday in April 2022. He was accused of espionage, for which he risked a death sentence.

He and another Swedish national, Saeed Azizi, were released on Saturday in exchange for Hamid Noury, a 63-year-old Iranian former prisons official handed a life sentence in Sweden in 2022 for his role in mass killings in Iranian jails in 1988.

A Swedish court had convicted Noury of “grave breaches of international humanitarian law and murder”. He had said he was on leave during the period in question.

Swedish officials have defended their decision to issue a pardon for Noury, amid criticism from exiled Iranians in Sweden, among others.

“Under normal circumstances, Hamid Noury should have served his prison sentence,” Justice Minister Gunnar Strommer told reporters late Saturday.

“On the other hand, we had an exceptional situation, with two Swedish citizens detained in Iran on arbitrary grounds, with the risk of a death sentence in one of the cases.”

“This was a difficult decision, but one the government had to take,” Strommer said.

Another Swede, dual national and academic Ahmad Reza Jalali, has been on death row in Iran since 2017 after being convicted of espionage.

His wife has criticized the Swedish government for not including him in the prisoner swap.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said Stockholm had tried to secure his release, but Tehran refused to discuss his case as it does not recognize dual nationality.

“Unfortunately, Iran refuses to recognize him as a Swedish citizen,” Billstrom said.

German police shot a man allegedly threatening them with an axe in city hosting Euro 2024 match  

Berlin — German police said Sunday they shot and wounded a man who was threatening them with an axe and a firebomb in the northern city of Hamburg, hours before it hosted a match in the Euro 2024 soccer tournament. 

Police officers opened fire after the man refused to lay down the ax, hitting him in the leg, German news agency dpa reported, citing Hamburg police. German media published images of a person lying in the street surrounded by paramedics and police officers. 

The incident occurred in the downtown St. Pauli area of the northern port city, which was thronged with fans ahead of Sunday’s soccer match between the Netherlands and Poland. 

The police spokesman said there was no initial indication that the incident was related to the soccer game. 

German authorities have put police on high alert during the tournament, which began on Friday and runs through July 14, for fear of possible fan violence and terrorist attacks. 

On Friday, police shot to death an Afghan man after he fatally attacked a compatriot and later wounded three people watching the televised game between Germany and Scotland in a town in eastern Germany. Police said Sunday that the motive for that attack was still unclear. 

Зеленський очікує, що до комюніке про основи миру приєднаються ще більше країн

Запорізька АЕС повинна працювати під повним суверенним контролем України – комюніке учасників Саміту миру

«Будь-яке використання ядерної енергії та ядерних установок має бути безпечним, захищеним, надійно охоронятися та не шкодити довкіллю» – наголошується в заяві

Even legal African visitors to Europe face hurdles

ALGIERS, Algeria — France has twice rejected visa applications from Nabil Tabarout, a 29-year-old web developer from Algeria who hopes this year to visit his sister there.

He’s among the many people navigating the often-arduous visa process throughout Africa, which faces higher visa rejection rates than anywhere else in the world when it comes to visiting Europe’s Schengen Area. Appointments are often difficult to secure. Applicants often must prove a minimum bank balance, substantiate the purpose of their visit and prove they plan to return home.

“That’s how it is. Every pleasure deserves pain,” said Tabarout, who has succeeded just once in obtaining a French visa.

Though much of Europe’s debate about migration centers on people who arrive without authorization, many more people choose to come by legal means. It’s painful, then, to discover that following the rules often fails.

The disproportionate rejection rates — 10% higher in Africa than the global average — hinder trade, business and educational partnerships at the expense of African economies, according to an April study from U.K.-based migration consultancy firm Henley & Partners.

The study called the practices discriminatory and urged Schengen countries to reform them.

Nowhere are applicants more rejected than in Algeria, where more than 392,000 applicants were rejected in 2022. The 45.8% rejection rate is followed by a 45.2% rejection rate in Guinea-Bissau and 45.1% in Nigeria.

Only one in 25 applicants living in the United States were rejected.

While the study found that applicants from poorer countries experienced higher rejections in general, it noted that applicants from Turkey and India experienced fewer rejection than applicants from the majority of African countries.

The reasons for that anti-Africa bias could be political, according to the study’s author, Mehari Taddele Maru of the European University Institute’s Migration Policy Center. Visa rejections are used as a political tool by European governments, including France, to negotiate the deportation of those who migrate to Europe without proper authorization. North African governments have refused to provide consular documents for their citizens facing deportation.

In an interview, Maru said Algeria has continent-high rejection rates because its number of applicants outpaces those from other African countries for geographic, economic and historical reasons. Many Algerians apply for visas in France, where they speak the language and may have family ties. And North Africa’s proximity to Europe means flights are short and cheap compared to flights from sub-Saharan Africa, leading more people to apply, he said.

Beyond rejection rates, the difficulty of applying is also a policy choice by European governments, Maru said. “When we talk about increasing barriers for potential applicants, it’s not only the rate of rejections, it’s also the restrictions to apply.”

That means the challenges can be local too.

For Algerians like Tabarout, VFS Global is a new player in the visa application process. The subcontractor was hired by French consular authorities after years of criticism about the previous system being dominated by a so-called “visa mafia.”

Applicants previously faced challenges securing time slots, which are quickly reserved by third-party brokers and then resold to the public — similar to how scalpers have dominated concert platforms. Rumors swirled about intricate computer programs connecting to appointment platforms and gobbling up slots within moments.

“They’re a bunch of swindlers who’ve been at it for years, making fortunes on the backs of poor citizens by making them pay dearly to make an appointment to apply for a visa,” asserted Ali Challali, who recently helped his daughter submit a French student visa application.

Under the previous system, applicants told The Associated Press they had to pay 15,000 to 120,000 Algerian dinars (103 to 825 euros) just to get an appointment.

In Algeria, many decide to pursue opportunities in France after not finding adequate economic opportunities at home or seek residency after going to French universities on student visas. According to a 2023 report from France’s Directorate General for Foreign Nationals, 78% of Algerian students “say they have no intention of returning to Algeria” upon finishing their studies.

The visa issue has historically been a cause of political tensions between the countries. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is scheduled to visit France later this year.

“Everything that can contribute to increasing trade between France, Europe and Algeria must be facilitated in both directions,” French Ambassador Stephane Ramotet said at a recent economic conference in Algiers. “Algerians who want to go to France to develop a business must be able to benefit from all the facilities, particularly visas.”

«Права людини завжди на часі», – у Києві відбувся Марш рівності на підтримку ЛГБТК+

Головна мета маршу, за словами організаторів, – боротьба за рівні права для громадян України, незалежно від гендерної ідентифікації та ухвалення законодавства для можливості цивільного партнерства одностатевих пар