Germany unveils $65bn inflation-relief plan

The German government agreed on a $65bn (65 billion euros) plan to ease pressure on households as Russian gas supplies dwindle and energy bills soar.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany would have sufficient energy to see it through to next year after Russia stopped supplies of gas to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

The head of the Russia-appointed administration in Enerhodar city, near the besieged nuclear facility, said the Zaporizhzhia plant was struck again by Ukrainian fire.

The counteroffensive in southern Ukraine is a “methodical operation” aiming to degrade Russian forces and logistics, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said.

Meanwhile, the leader of Italy’s far-right League party, Matteo Salvini, has waded into the discussion about the sanctions the West has imposed on Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine. He says they are not working.

“Several months have passed and people are paying two, three, even four times more for their bills,” he told RTL radio. “And after seven months, the war continues and Russian Federation coffers are filling with money.”

Skyrocketing energy prices since the start of the war in Ukraine have inflicted economic pain on countries in the European Union which before the war had been reliant on Russia for a large chunk of its gas supplies.

The Kremlin blames the EU for the suspension of gas deliveries via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, news agency Interfax has reported.

Speaking in a television broadcast titled “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin”, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said, “If the Europeans make an absolutely absurd decision, where they refuse to maintain their systems, or rather, systems belonging to Gazprom, then it is not Gazprom’s fault but the fault of the politicians who decided about the sanctions.”

According to Peskov, Europeans are contractually obliged to maintain the systems of the Russian energy giant Gazprom.

It’s an open question how long international nuclear inspectors will be able to stay at an embattled Ukrainian nuclear reactor, according to Russian forces.

“As far as the mission is concerned, it will still operate provisionally until September 5. That means they’re still working tomorrow,” wrote Vladimir Rogov on Telegram, according to Russian radio broadcaster Komsomolskaya Pravda.

“And on the 6th, they’ll pull out. But that’s still not set. They could extend their stay.” Rogov said there has been no fighting near the reactor on Sunday.

Even amid historic tensions between Russia and the West, the Kremlin expects relations to return to normal at some point, according to spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“Every confrontation ends with an easing of tensions, and every crisis situation ends at the negotiating table,” Peskov said on state TV, Interfax news agency reported.

“That will be the case this time as well.” It is likely, he said, that it will not happen so quickly, but it will happen, he said on the TV programme “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin.”

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