European leaders visit Ukraine in show of support
The leaders of Europe’s three largest economies – French President Macron, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi have each voiced support to Ukraine joining the European Union during a joint visit to Kyiv
The leaders agree the war-torn nation should get “immediate” candidate status, but in reality, this is just the start of a lengthy membership process.
Ukraine’s candidacy will need to be agreed on by all 27 of the EU’s member states, and this could happen during an EU summit on June 23.
A negotiation stage would follow, in which the nation could be asked to implement reforms, such as stamping out corruption.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister says while warm scenes during the visit represent an “historic breakthrough” – she also warns Western countries have shown a “gap between promises and actions” in the past.
Kyiv hopes their visit brings concrete action
All three leaders are seeking to overcome Ukraine’s criticism of their response to its fight against Russia’s invasion.
Irpin was one of the main hotspots of fighting with Russian troops in the north before they pulled back to intensify their offensive in the east.
Ukraine says Russia committed large-scale atrocities here, which Russia denies.
Macron called the town “heroic” and said there were signs war crimes were committed.
The French president has been criticized at home and abroad for not going to Ukraine earlier. He has repeatedly said he would only go if and when the visit could be “useful” and not just symbolic.
The trio arrived together by train in a show of unified solidarity, but it remains to be seen what concrete steps they bring.
“A message of unity we’re sending to the Ukrainians, yes, of support, to speak about today but also the future because we know the weeks to come will be very difficult.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wants his visitors to deliver more arms to help his hard-pressed army withstand the Russian invaders.
“Every day of delay or delayed decisions is an opportunity for the Russian military to kill Ukrainians or destroy our cities. There is a direct correlation: the more powerful weapons we get, the faster we can liberate our people, our land. Ukrainian people are waiting for liberation of our territory, of Ukraine’s territory.”
Kyiv has accused France, Germany and, to a lesser extent, Italy, of foot-dragging: being slow to deliver weapons and putting their own prosperity ahead of Ukraine’s freedom and security.
Ukraine has been particularly critical of Germany’s military aid and wants Scholz to hand over heavy weapons that have been promised but not yet delivered.
Scholz has dismissed allegations he has held back, saying Germany was one of the biggest military and financial backers of Ukraine.
Kyiv officials have also expressed fears of pressure to accept a peace deal favorable to Russia, which calls its invasion a “special military operation”.
The Kremlin said the leaders’ visit shouldn’t only focus on supplying weapons. It’s “absolutely useless,” spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, and will prolong suffering and cause further damage.
The European Union’s executive is expected to propose on Friday (June 17) that Ukraine become a formal candidate for membership, diplomats and officials say.
That would be a significant political gesture to Ukraine, but it’s also something EU leaders are divided on.
Europe is preparing for winter: how can you keep costs down?
Britain is facing a surge in cold weather, with icy conditions and fog expected for much of this week
The UK Met Office has issued a Yellow warning, which means there could be damage to buildings as Britons brace for cold conditions.
Like much of Europe, the UK are bracing for very strong winds on Wednesday, causing disruption to travel and some utilities.
Drivers are also urged to take extra care on the roads, with warnings in place for icy stretches forming on UK roads.
But some residents who are seeking to heat their homes are on edge, as power prices remain high.
Peter Smith is the director of policy and advocacy at National Energy Action, who said the rising cost of living is impacting Britons.
“The average annual bill has almost doubled since this time last year.”
The organisation seeks to close the gaps when it comes to energy affordability. It predicts 6.7 million UK households will be in fuel poverty in the coming months.
This means millions of Britons will be unable to afford living in a warm, dry and safe home.
“So far the milder than usual weather has protected many from the spiralling bills as they haven’t needed to heat their homes as high or as long as usual,” Mr Smith said.
How to keep warm without blowing your bill
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has urged people to make their own decisions, as he met with world leaders in tropical Bali last week.
“There are things that we can do—all of us—to improve the efficiency with which we use energy, to be careful about it,” he said.
For example, an efficient heater; taking advantage of the sun, where appropriate; and rearranging furniture are some cost-effective methods to reduce the burden on gas and energy bills.
In addition, there are some other cheap ways to reduce dependence on gas and electricity bills, as the temperature continue to plunge.
- close off rooms you’re not using
- lower the temperature of heating
- make sure windows are fully closed
- block cold drafts from under doors using door snakes or carpet.
The UK Government has placed a cap freeze on energy prices.
This means households will pay an average £2,500 on their energy bills. But there is a catch: if households use more, they pay more.
National Energy Action believes an additional 2.2 million homes could be in fuel poverty, when compared to the same time last year.
Why are energy prices so high?
As demand increases, so too does the cost of heating homes.
But there is another factor, which has sent prices rising across Europe: the war in Ukraine.
Russia accounts for 25% of global gas trade, 15% of global thermal coal trade and 10% of global oil trade.
However, countries are struggling to find alternative supplies after sanctioning Moscow for the ongoing conflict.
Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was expected to double the amount of Russian gas shipped to Europe.
In July, Russia cut the amount of gas pumped through Nord Stream 1 to 20 per cent capacity.
Hoax call between Polish and “French” Presidents
Poland President Andrezj Duda spoke to a hoaxer posing as France counterpart Emmanuel Macron, on the night a missile hit near the Poland-Ukraine border.
The news was confirmed after two Russian pranksters, Vovan and Lexus, posted a recording of the incident, and Duda’s office also affirmed the incident.
During the call, Duda was asking who was responsible for the attack on November 15, wanting to avoid a war with Russia.
The missile landed six kilometres from the border.
Initial reports suggested the missile was Russian-made, but it was later discovered to likely be a Ukrainian air defence missile.
This is the second time the pranksters have targeted the Poland President, who have made their names going after celebrities and politicians, especially those opposed to the Kremlin.
Russian missiles hit NATO territory, killing two
Russian missile hits Poland, as the west assesses the attack on a NATO member
Reports a Russian missile has landed in Poland, killing two people. A projectile struck an area where grain was drying in the village of Przewodów, near the Ukraine border.
An anonymous U.S. intelligence official suggested a barrage of Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian power grid, and spilt into neighbouring Poland.
Poland is a NATO member, therefore, this signifies a potential escalation to the ongoing war. It also marks the first time weapons have impacted a NATO country.
Currently, the Polish government are holding urgent talks. A Polish spokesman Piotr Mueller has confirmed that top leaders are holding an emergency meeting regarding the “crisis situation.”
Under Article 5 of NATO, an attack on one country is considered an attack on all.
The White House has not confirmed the reports but the Pentagon is assessing the situation.
While NATO has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, including in response to the situation in Syria and the Russian invasion of Ukraine—it has only invoked Article 5 once.
For the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States, NATO evoked Article 5 and came to the defence of the United States.
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