While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, June 30

A Ukrainian T-64BV comes off the front line for repairs in Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, on June 29, 2022. PHOTO: NYTIMES

Nato backs military aid for Ukraine, Russia steps up attacks

Nato on Wednesday branded Russia the biggest "direct threat" to Western security after its invasion of Ukraine and agreed plans to modernise Kyiv's beleaguered armed forces, saying it stood fully behind Ukrainians' "heroic defence of their country".

At a summit dominated by the invasion and the geopolitical upheaval it has caused, Nato also invited Sweden and Finland to join and pledged a seven-fold increase from 2023 in combat forces on high alert along its eastern flank against any future Russian attack.

In reaction, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would respond in kind if Nato set up infrastructure in Finland and Sweden after they join the US-led military alliance.

Putin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying he could not rule out that tensions would emerge in Moscow's relations with Helsinki and Stockholm over their joining Nato.

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Jokowi offers to deliver message from Zelensky to Putin

Indonesian President Joko Widodo offered on Wednesday to deliver a message from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Russian leader Vladimir Putin to try to boost peace hopes.

It was not immediately clear how Mr Zelensky responded to the offer made by Jokowi – as President Widodo is known – during talks in Kyiv or whether the Ukrainian leader had any message he wished to send to Mr Putin.

Mr Widodo is the chair of the Group of 20 (G-20) nations and one of six leaders the United Nations has appointed as “champions” of a Global Crisis Response Group, formed to address the threat of a hunger and destitution posed by the war in Ukraine.

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Main suspect gets life sentence for 2015 attacks on Paris

A French court on Wednesday handed a life sentence to the lone survivor of the Islamist squad that killed 130 people in a night of carnage across Paris, bringing some closure to survivors and a country whose psyche was left scarred.

Salah Abdeslam was found guilty on terrorism and murder charges, with no possibility of early release, the most severe criminal sentence possible in France and one handed out only four times previously.

Nineteen other men judged for helping organise the Nov 13, 2015 attacks that targeted the Bataclan music hall, six bars and restaurants and the Stade de France sports stadium were also all found guilty.

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US Open champion Raducanu crashes out of Wimbledon

US Open champion Emma Raducanu crashed out of Wimbledon on Wednesday, losing her second-round match against Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-3 to the disappointment of the British home crowd.

The 10th seed, who was troubled by a side strain in the run-up to the Grand Slam, was broken five times in the match on Centre Court by her French opponent, ranked 55 in the world.

Raducanu, 19, was on the back foot early in the contest after being broken in her first service game and won just 45 per cent of points on her first serve.

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R&B singer R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years in prison in sex case

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R. Kelly was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 years in prison, following the multiplatinum R&B singer’s conviction for exploiting his stardom and wealth over decades to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex.

The sentence was imposed nine months after Kelly, 55, was convicted of racketeering and sex crimes, in a trial that amplified accusations that had dogged the singer of the Grammy-winning hit I Believe I Can Fly for two decades.

US District Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn federal court said the evidence reflected Kelly’s “indifference to human suffering” and “sheer brutality” towards his victims.

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