European | EU Russia: bloc tightens visa requirements but maintains no ban

European Union foreign ministers have agreed to suspend a visa agreement with Moscow, making it harder for Russian citizens to obtain entry to the bloc.

A blanket ban had been demanded by Ukraine and some of the other members, but France and Germany were against it.

Since the invasion of Ukraine in February, more than a million Russian citizens have visited the EU.

It is anticipated that several eastern EU nations bordering Russia may apply more restrictions.

The EU was "shooting itself in the foot," according to Alexander Glushko, deputy foreign minister of Russia, and the action would not go unretaliated.

Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister of Ukraine, criticized the choice as a "half-measure."

In terms of Russia, he claimed, "exactly this is what sparked the massive invasion of February 24."

The significant increase in border crossings from Russia, according to EU foreign policy leader Josep Borrell, necessitated the suspension of the deal.

He declared, "This has turned into a security problem for these neighboringtraveling states." Additionally, a lot of Russians have been observed shopping and traveling for pleasure as if there were no ongoing hostilities in Ukraine.

However, he issued a warning against alienating Russians who oppose the war or "civil society."

According to Mr. Borrell, bordering nations are still able to impose travel restrictions on Russian nationals, even those who have valid visas.

Since member nations were unable to agree on outright Russian bans, the policy, which makes it more difficult and expensive for Russians to obtain a visa, is considered a compromise.

In a joint statement, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, the five EU nations that border Russia, stated they might impose temporary bans or limits "to address critical public security challenges."

According to Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, who was quoted by Reuters, Estonia aims to prevent the majority of Russians from entering the country within weeks.

The European Commission would examine additional options, according to Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipovsky, who also noted that 12 million Russians have received visas or around 8% of the country's total population.

But in a joint statement, France and Germany cautioned that "far-reaching limitations" may support Russia's victimization narrative and alienate Russians in the future.

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