EU state suspends travel deal with Russia
A border-crossing arrangement that has facilitated travel between Russia and Latvia for residents of the two countries’ border regions has been suspended by the authorities in Riga from Monday, August 1.
The government of the Baltic nation made the decision a few weeks ago to freeze the agreement – which had been signed between Russia and Latvia in 2010 – and now it has officially gone into force.
Riga explained its move citing the closure of the Latvian consulate in Russia’s north-western city of Pskov, which had been the only mission that issued papers to Russians in accordance with the simplified scheme.
Russia shut down the consulate and declared all its staff personae non grata in April, saying that it was a tit-for-tat move and blaming Latvia and its Baltic neighbors for providing military aid for Ukraine and for whitewashing its crimes against the people of Donbass.
Latvia had stopped issuing visas to Russians, including residents of border areas, after the launch of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine on February 24.
On Sunday, the country’s foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics reiterated his call on other EU members to follow Riga and ban access to the bloc for Russian nationals.
The day before, Russian gas giant Gazprom said that it had halted deliveries to Latvia due to “violations of the terms of gas extraction.”
The announcement followed a confession by the chairman of Latvian gas company Latvijas Gaze, Aigars Kalvitis, that Riga had continued to buy Russian natural gas from “another supplier” despite earlier refusing to comply with Moscow’s demand for payments in rubles.