4 nations bordering Russia restrict Russian tourists


Copenhagen, Denmark — Four European countries bordering Russia will take regional measures this month to prevent Russians from entering Europe’s visa-free zone overland, as they “are increasingly concerned about the substantial influx and growing number of Russian citizens”.

“We believe this is becoming a serious threat to our public security and to the entire shared Schengen area,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said Thursday. “There are people who come with the aim of undermining the security of our countries.”

Poland and the three Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – have agreed on a common regional approach with “the political will and firm intention to introduce temporary national measures for Russian citizens holding visas of the EU”.

These measures are expected to come into force in each of the four countries by September 19.

“We emphasize that this is not an outright ban on entry and that mutually agreed legitimate exceptions will remain,” Kallas said, adding that the exceptions include dissenters, humanitarian cases , family members and residence permit holders, among others.

“Going to the European Union is a privilege, not a human right,” Kallas said, adding that it was “unacceptable that citizens of the aggressor state can travel freely within the EU, while ‘at the same time people in Ukraine are being tortured’. and murdered.

In Poland, one of Ukraine’s staunchest supporters in its fight against the Russian invasion, the government said the aim was to “prevent direct threats to public order and security”.

Kallas added that most visas issued to Russians were granted before Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Estonia and Latvia border the Russian mainland, while Lithuania and Poland share borders with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea.

At a European Union summit last month, the bloc’s 27 members were divided on whether to impose a broad visa ban on Russian citizens, torn between a desire to step up pressure on the Russian president. Vladimir Putin and concerns about punishing ordinary Russians who might not even support his war on Ukraine.

The EU already tightened visa restrictions for Russian officials and businessmen in May, but Poland and the Baltic countries have called for a broader ban on tourists. Germany and France are leading a campaign to tighten visa restrictions for Russians rather than impose an outright ban.

“What we have seen in the past two weeks and months is that the number of border crossings by Russian citizens holding Schengen visas has increased significantly,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars said. Rinkevics at a press conference after a meeting of Nordic and Baltic foreign ministers in Lithuania on Wednesday. “It also becomes a public safety issue. This is…a question of a moral and political nature.

The EU has already banned air travel from Russia after invading Ukraine. But Russians can still travel overland to Estonia and then apparently take flights to other European destinations.

All four countries are members of the EU and part of the European travel zone – known as the “Schengen area” – where people and goods move freely between these countries without border controls.

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Follow all AP stories on developments related to the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

———— Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland and Jari Tanner in Helsinki contributed to this report.

ABC News

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