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19 Sep, 2023 09:00

France reveals stance on Russian car ban

Paris has no plans to follow Poland and Finland despite updated EU guidelines
France reveals stance on Russian car ban

Russian-registered vehicles will still be able to enter France despite the European Commission granting member states the right to ban or impound them, French diplomats have said. Some EU countries bordering Russia have already introduced restrictions.

In a comment to Russia’s Izvestia newspaper published on Tuesday, the press office of the French Embassy in Moscow clarified that “at the moment there are no changes to the rules [relating to EU sanctions on Russia] on the part of France.” Officials added that the French government is not planning to introduce restrictions in the near future.

The European Commission clarified on September 8 that sanctions on Moscow mean that passenger cars with Russian license plates that enter the bloc will be considered prohibited imports, regardless of “whether the use of the vehicles is private or commercial.” Brussels, however, left the implementation of the ban to the discretion of member states.

EU authorities initially explained that Russian citizens could not bring certain personal items and hygiene products into the bloc, even when traveling as tourists. Officials later relaxed that stance, recommending that customs authorities act in a “proportionate and reasonable manner.” However, they reiterated that vehicles require “particular attention” regarding potential sanctions violations.

On Sunday, Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski announced an entry ban for all cars with Russian license plates, following similar steps by Germany, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. In Lithuania, the authorities have granted an exception for Russian cars transiting though the country to the exclave of Kaliningrad.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described the measures as “racism,” while Russian citizens traveling to or staying in EU countries have been advised to “thoroughly weigh up all the risks.

Elsewhere, former President Dmitry Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy chair of the Russian Security Council, called for the temporary suspension of diplomatic relations with the EU.