EU complicates travel rules for Russians, but opposes visa ban

EU complicates travel rules for Russians, but opposes visa ban

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PRAGUE, Aug 31 (Portal) – EU foreign ministers decided on Wednesday to make it more expensive and longer for Russians to get visas to enter the bloc, but ditched the EU-wide visa ban for Ukraine and several member states had agreed to.

Too divided to agree on a blanket ban at this point, the EU also left unclear what unilateral measures Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Finland, which share land borders with Russia, could take to restrict access for Russian restrict visitors.

These five countries hailed the suspension of the visa facilitation deal with Russia as a “necessary first step,” but stressed that more needs to be done to “drastically reduce the number of visas issued and Russians traveling to the bloc since Moscow invaded Ukraine.” “ to limit February.

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“Until such measures are in place at the EU level, we will … consider introducing temporary visa ban measures or restricting border crossings for Russian citizens with EU visas at the national level to address looming public security issues,” they said in one joint statement.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said the EU’s executive commission would indeed look at ways to go further, including what could be done with Lipavsky’s around 12 million Schengen visas already issued to Russians – citing the 26- Countries Open Borders Zone.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell argued that the suspension of the visa facilitation deal will in itself have a real impact.

“This will significantly reduce the number of new visas issued by EU member states. It will be more difficult, it will take longer,” he said at a press conference at the end of a two-day meeting of EU foreign ministers in Prague.

Borrell said a significant increase in border crossings from Russia to neighboring countries since mid-July has made it necessary to suspend the visa facilitation agreement.

“SECURITY RISK”

“This has become a security risk for these neighboring states,” he added. “Also, we saw many Russians going out for leisure and shopping, as if there was no war raging in Ukraine.”

More than a million Russian citizens have entered the bloc through land border crossings since the invasion of Ukraine began, most of them via Finland and Estonia, the bloc’s border agency Frontex said. Continue reading

Ukraine has repeatedly said that ordinary Russians are also paying for the invasion, which according to the United Nations has killed thousands of civilians and leveled cities.

Dmytro Kuleba, Foreign Minister, earlier Wednesday repeatedly called for an EU visa ban, saying it was “an appropriate response to Russia’s genocidal war of aggression in the heart of Europe, which is supported by an overwhelming majority of Russian citizens.” Continue reading

But France and Germany disagreed.

“We warn against sweeping restrictions on our visa policies to avoid feeding the Russian narrative and triggering unintended ‘rally-around-the-flag’ effects and/or alienating future generations,” read a joint memo.

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Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold, Jason Hovet, Bart Meijer, Gabriela Baczynska; writing by Ingrid Melander; Edited by John Chalmers and Nick Macfie

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