Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba 10 August urged all countries of the European Union and the G7 to stop issuing visas to Russian citizens. For the first time, such a proposal was made a few days ago by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In a recent interview In the Washington Post newspaper, he demanded to suspend the issuance of visas to European citizens of Russia, and to those Russians who already live in Europe, to cancel their residence permits and force them to return to their homeland – until Russia stops the aggression in Ukraine.
Moscow accepted Zelensky’s proposal is negative. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, called attempts to isolate Russia and Russians futile and expressed the hope that “common sense will prevail.”
9 August Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin spoke for limiting the issuance of Finnish visas to Russians. According to Marin, it is unfair that in the context of ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine, Russians continue to enjoy the right to travel to Europe. She stressed that for many Russian tourists, Finland is only a transit point, which they use for further travel around the world after many countries have closed air links with Russia. Sanna Marin said that the decision to limit Russian tourism should be taken at the pan-European level.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas also called for “an end to tourism from Russia.” Estonia stopped issuing citizens of Russia and Belarus short-term visas and residence permits for study on July 28.
On August 5, Latvia suspended the issuance of national and Schengen visas to Russians. The only exception is the need to travel to Latvia for the funeral of a close relative.
EU foreign ministers will meet in Prague at the end of August. In particular, they discuss the possibility of restricting the issuance of tourist Schengen visas to citizens of the Russian Federation. Such a ban could be included in the next package of EU sanctions against Russia.
However, for now, the European Commission excludes a complete cessation of issuing visas to Russians, as this is contrary to EU standards. “There are always groups of people who need to be given visas. These are humanitarian cases, family members [граждан стран ЕС]journalists and dissidents, stated European Commission representative Anita Hipper.
- Most EU countries continue to issue tourist visas to Russians, but the flow of tourists has significantly decreased. There is no direct air communication between the EU countries and Russia – it stopped in the first days after the start of the war in Ukraine.
- The Russian armed invasion of Ukraine began on February 24 on the orders of President Vladimir Putin. Because of the war, the United States and Western countries imposed tough sanctions on Moscow, which affected not only the country’s leadership and Russian business, but also ordinary citizens.