German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he does not support an EU-wide travel ban for Russian citizens.
“This is not the Russian people’s war, but it is [Vladimir] Putin’s war,” Scholz said at a Monday news conference in Oslo.
He added that “it is important for us to understand that there are many people fleeing Russia, because they disagree with the Russian regime”.
At the same press conference, Finnish and Danish prime ministers Sanna Marin and Mette Frederiksen said a visa ban should be discussed at EU level. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said her government had not yet made a decision on the matter.
Marin told reporters that “it’s not a black or white issue, there are shades of grey” and that she is advocating for a coordinated EU-wide approach.
The issue is increasingly dividing EU countries, as Ukraine continues to demand a ban. The Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland have stopped issuing some visas to Russians, with Tallinn even announcing last Thursday that Russians holding Schengen visas issued by Estonia would not be allowed to enter the country.
Scholz has previously cast doubt on the effectiveness of the tool, arguing that a blanket ban on everyone would undermine the purpose and effect of the targeted sanctions that have been applied to those who support the war.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said last week that he wanted to raise the issue at the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Prague at the end of August.