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While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, July 2

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Ukrainian servicemen fire a shell from a M777 howitzer, in Ukraine’s Donetsk Region.

PHOTO: REUTERS

US announces more missiles, ammunition for Ukraine

The Pentagon announced on Friday US$820 million (S$1.1 billion) in additional weapons and ammunition for Ukraine as it battles Russian forces along the eastern and southern fronts.

The 14th package of armaments for Ukraine forces includes two air defence systems, more ammunition for the Himars precision rocket launchers the US began supplying in June, up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, and four additional counter-artillery radars.

The air defence systems, known as NASAMS, are a short and medium-range surface-to-air missile system developed by Raytheon and Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace.

The remote-operated launchers are to help Ukraine forces defend against piloted and drone aircraft and cruise missiles.

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Political pawn? Basketball’s Griner goes on trial in Russia

Brittney Griner arrived in Russia in February to play basketball, one of the sport’s biggest stars. She arrived in a courtroom outside Moscow on Friday as something else entirely – a potential bargaining chip in Russia’s tense standoff with the West over the war in Ukraine, described by supporters as a hostage of the Kremlin.

After more than four months languishing in a Russian prison, and speaking no Russian, Griner, 31, went on trial, accused of carrying into the country vape cartridges with traces – 0.7 grams, the prosecutor said – of cannabis oil. In a legal system that rarely finds defendants anything but guilty, she faces up to 10 years in a penal colony if convicted.

Griner’s arrest on Feb 17 – a week before the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – pulled her into the maw of geopolitics as President Vladimir Putin faced a determined Western effort to help Ukraine fight back. She has been touted in Russian state media as an asset who could be traded for a Russian arms dealer imprisoned in a the United States.

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Biden predicts arrests for women who travel for abortions

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