June 4, 2023

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The European Union is close to suspending the agreement with Russia on visas

The member states of the European Union are preparing to suspend the 2007 agreement with Russia regarding the facilitation of obtaining visas, writes the Financial Times newspaper on Sunday, taken over by dpa.

The European foreign ministers are to politically support a decision in this regard at the unofficial meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday in Prague, says the cited daily, based on the statements of three officials involved in the dialogue on this topic.

The measure would extend the partial suspension imposed in February on Russian officials and businessmen, including ordinary Russian citizens, according to the Financial Times, according to Agerpres.

The suspension would complicate the process of granting visas in the EU, and the procedures would become more expensive and bureaucratic. It would also increase the waiting periods for approval, according to the instructions of the European Commission.

According to the quoted source, other restrictions on the movements of Russian citizens have not yet been decided, such as limiting the number of visas granted by the EU or the total ban on Russians traveling to Europe.

The Czech Republic, Finland and Estonia, which have already restricted the granting of visas to Russians, are asking the EU to completely ban their access, but Germany and the European Commission are opposed.

The visa granted by any member state allows access to all 26 European member states of the Schengen Area.

Boris Johnson blames Russia for ‘staggering’ energy bills: ‘Putin loves it’

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is blaming Russia for the UK’s cost of living crisis and admits energy bills will be “heady” this winter, according to Sky News. Boris Johnson has admitted that energy bills will be “staggering” this winter and the cost of heating is already “frightening” for some.

Writing in The Mail on Sunday, the outgoing prime minister blamed Vladimir Putin for exacerbating the crisis and said the Russian president “loves” the situation. And while Johnson warned the coming months could be “very difficult”, he insisted the UK’s future “will be golden”.

“It was Putin’s invasion of Ukraine that spooked the energy markets. It is Putin’s war that is costing British consumers. This is why your energy bill is doubling. I’m afraid Putin knows this. He likes it this. And he wants us to give in,” he wrote, according to Mediafax.

Boris Johnson has claimed the president believes “soft” European politicians will ease sanctions “and go begging for Russian oil and gas” as winter sets in. But he warned that withdrawing support from Ukraine would be “total madness” and insisted that Putin’s position was “getting weaker and weaker” with each passing month.

The Conservative government has been accused of failing to deliver emergency measures on the cost of living crisis as the leadership contest between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss continues.

However, Boris Johnson wrote: “We must and will help people through the crisis. Colossal amounts of taxpayers’ money are already committed to helping people pay their bills. That money is flowing now and will continue to flow in the coming months. Next month – regardless of who takes my place – the government will announce another huge package of financial support.”

Liz Truss, who is the favorite to be named next prime minister on September 5, said it would not be “right” to announce her full plans to tackle the crisis until after the contest for prime minister.

In his article, Johnson tried to strike an optimistic note and said he was sure “Britain will emerge stronger and more prosperous”.

He later added: “We have more than enough stamina to see us through the months ahead. We have demonstrated this before. And we have taken the long-term decisions – including on domestic energy supply – to ensure that our comeback can and should be remarkable and that our future will be golden.”

But Labour’s shadow minister Pat McFadden told Sky News the Prime Minister’s article “just shows how little he understands the shockwave that was sent through households across the country by Ofgem’s announcement on Friday”.

He added: “We’re facing energy bills of hundreds of pounds a month for households across the country and the conversation that’s taking place of course is how can we afford this, what else can we cut? And for some people, it will simply be impossible.”

But former minister Simon Hart, who was among those who resigned in protest at Prime Minister Johnson, said it was “perfectly reasonable” for the Prime Minister to say Britain would recover.

“We started this in a reasonably strong position because of some of the decisions that were made by Rishi Sunak, to be honest, about things like furlough. [Așa că] in fact, we will be able to come out of this in a few months’ time in a reasonably strong position. This is a completely reasonable scenario.”

Reports in The Sunday Telegraph suggest Ms Truss is considering cutting VAT by up to five percentage points to help consumers and businesses cope with rising costs – potentially from 20% to 15%.

A source told Sky News that Liz Truss “will consider options to help people, but it would not be right for her to announce her plans before she is elected Prime Minister or sees all the facts”.

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