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European Union tightens visa rules for Russians but does not rule on travel ban

A senior EU diplomat commented that “the suspension of the facilitation agreement is almost certain”. Measure advocated by Ukraine, in response to the Russian invasion and backed by some members of the European political community.

EU diplomats said EU foreign ministers would likely agree to suspend a visa facilitation deal with Moscow and make Russians wait longer and pay more for their visas.

While the bloc remains divided over an outright EU travel ban, countries including Germany and France have warned that it would be counterproductive to ban the general Russian population. Measure advocated by kyiv in response to the Russian invasion and backed by some members of the political community.

“The suspension of the facilitation agreement is almost certain,” said a senior European Union diplomat.

Annalena Baerbock, German Foreign Minister, was in favor of not going any further. “It is crucial not to punish dissidents who try to leave Russia,” she said.

France and Germany also noted that they “warn against far-reaching restrictions on our visa policy, in order to avoid fueling the Russian narrative and triggering unintended effects of rallying around the flag and/or alienating future generations.”

Separately, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba quickly dismissed arguments that traveling to the West might change the Russians’ minds, saying Moscow had waged a brief war with Georgia and annexed Crimea since it got more visas. easy in the EU in 2007.

“Traveling to the EU has not had any transformative effect on Russia,” he said. “To transform Russia, you have to close the door to Russian tourists.”

Possible regional ban

Nordic and Eastern countries strongly support a tourist visa ban, with some saying they may opt for a regional restriction if there is no agreement at the European Union level.

“If the 27 EU countries do not reach an agreement, a regional solution could be sought in the future for the countries most affected by the flow of Russian tourists,” said Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuanian foreign minister.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has called talk of a tourist visa ban “irrational.”

The spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, described the visa ban requests as an example of the West’s “anti-Russian agenda”. “Step by step, unfortunately, both Brussels and the various European capitals are showing an absolute lack of reason,” he said.

Finland, which has a long land border with Russia and says it does not want to become a hub for Russian tourists entering the EU, has drastically reduced the number of visas it grants to them.

Also, earlier this month, Estonia closed its border to more than 50,000 Russians with previously pending visas, the first country in the European political community to do so.

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Source: Elmostrador





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