EU shame as Russian chief dining out three times in five days behind scenes

Russia: TV pundit discusses internal food supplies

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Mr Chizhov has been the Russian envoy to the EU for 17 years and he is now claiming that despite showing to the public an icy approach to Russian diplomacy, he is still meeting regularly with officials across the bloc. Speaking to Politico he said: “This week I had three lunches in five days.”

The Russian ambassador also claimed to be the reason why some EU countries have agreed to pay for Russian energy in rubles.

He added that he was “in touch with lots of people”, but he refused to give names.

However, he admitted relations between the EU and Moscow have deteriorated since the beginning of the war.

He said: “The EU no longer considers my country to be a strategic partner.”

Dismissing his claims, former US Ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner said: “He is someone who will say absolutely anything no matter how absurdly untrue.”

In January, Mr Chizhov branded “hysterical” all warnings Moscow was preparing to attack Ukraine.

And more recently, he told Sky News that Ukrainian civilian lives were not being lost in the war at the hands of Russian soldiers.

The Russian envoy’s claims come as EU officials are gathering in Brussels today in a bid to agree on the latest package of sanctions against Moscow proposed by the EU Commission.

The package includes an embargo on Russian oil which Hungary is reluctant to accept.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who until now has opposed a phased embargo on Russian oil, wrote to the President of the European Council on May 23, saying it was unlikely a solution could be found by an EU heads of state meeting next week and that Budapest was not in a position to agree.

France’s new foreign minister said on Tuesday she was optimistic that those still opposed to a new European Union sanctions package that would phase out Russian oil imports to the bloc could be convinced and that the bloc would reach a deal.

“We must adopt as quickly as possible the sixth package of sanctions that foresees the progressive end of the imports of Russian oil and to lift the remaining reticence,” Catherine Colonna told a news conference alongside her German counterpart Annalena Baerbock in Berlin.

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“We hope do it quickly and I’m optimistic.”

Ms Colonna, on her first overseas trip since her appointment as foreign minister last week, sought to underscore the importance of the Franco-German partnership as the conflict in Ukraine enters a fourth month.

“Coming to Berlin as a first gesture was obvious.

“Franco-German cooperation is indispensable in normal times and even more so in a period of crisis,” she said.

The two ministers said their countries would continue to strengthen their military, humanitarian and financial support for Ukraine.

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