A local resident walks with a bicycle past a destroyed building of the police department during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the city of Lysychansk in the Luhansk Region, Ukraine July 4, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

After the escalation of the diplomatic conflict with Bulgaria, Russia has also threatened other EU countries with consequences. The EU must be aware that “imprudent support for anti-Russian measures by individual member states transfers responsibility for their consequences to the entire EU, including with regard to retaliatory measures on our part,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Monday .

Moscow threatened to shut down the Russian embassy in Bulgaria on Friday after Sofia refused to reverse the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomats.

“Sofia’s politicized decision to unfairly reduce our diplomatic staff in Bulgaria will certainly not go unanswered at the bilateral level,” Zakharova said. The expulsion goes “far beyond diplomatic practice,” she said, calling on Sofia and the EU to “reflect on the principle of reciprocity that underlies diplomatic relations.”

The ambassadors of the 30 NATO member states in Brussels will sign the accession protocols for Finland and Sweden on Tuesday (10:00 a.m.). This means that the two countries can take part in all meetings of the military alliance, but cannot vote. The governments of the 30 NATO countries still have to approve the accession. The Bundestag could agree to Finland and Sweden joining this week.

Finland and Sweden broke with their traditional neutrality in May because of the Russian attack on Ukraine and applied for NATO membership. NATO launched the process of admitting the two countries into the military alliance last week after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave up his opposition. (AFP)

The Ukrainian government estimates the cost of rebuilding their country, which was devastated by the Russian war of aggression, at at least 750 billion dollars (almost 720 billion euros). Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal said on Monday at the international reconstruction conference in Lugano, Switzerland, that the reconstruction would be financed largely from the confiscated assets of the Russian state and the oligarchs.

“The Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war, they caused this massive destruction, and they should be held accountable for it,” Shmyhal said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had earlier urged the international community to help rebuild his devastated country Reconstruction is not the task of a single nation, but the “common task of the entire democratic world”.

In Lugano, delegations from almost 40 countries and representatives of 14 international organizations, business and civil society will be discussing a kind of Marshall Plan for Ukraine until Tuesday. (AFP)