MOSCOW, October 8 (RIA Novosti)
Moscow believes that the European Union is delaying signing the visa-free agreement with Russia for political reasons, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.
“We are receiving information that the reason is political. There is an opinion that, under the governing principle of solidarity within the EU, it is unacceptable to agree a visa-free regime with Russia before this is granted to Eastern partnership countries,” Lavrov said.
Russia's top diplomat said he intends to raise this issue at his meeting with EU member states' foreign ministers in Luxembourg on October 14.
“I want to discuss this issue with them and hear some assurances that our suspicions are baseless, and I want to see some steps taken that would dispel our doubts not in words but in reality,” Lavrov said.
Last year the Kremlin made visa-free travel between Russia and the EU a foreign policy priority. Russia’s then-President Dmitry Medvedev repeatedly declared the country's readiness to scrap existing visa requirements with the EU.
However, the European Union has been deadlocked over this thorny issue amid concerns that a visa-free arrangement could lead to a rise in crime and illegal immigration.
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If attempts to drag Russia into a direct military conflict in Ukraine are successful, it would be a catastrophe for Russia comparable to the 1979-1989 Afghan war. There is no direct evidence that the US is trying to bring about a second Afghan war, but indirect evidence abounds.