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4 Aug, 2022 14:18

Estonian FM wants ban on Russians traveling to EU in next sanctions round – Bloomberg

The country’s top diplomat said that he discussed the idea during a meeting with the Ukrainian president
Estonian FM wants ban on Russians traveling to EU in next sanctions round – Bloomberg

Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu would like to see an EU-wide travel visa ban on the Russian citizens in the next package of the bloc’s sanctions against Moscow, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. The outlet cited a phone interview with Reinsalu who is at present visiting Kiev.

The country’s top diplomat said that he'd discussed the idea during a meeting with the Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky.

“We have to raise the cost of Russian aggression through additional sanctions, weapons, and by increasingly isolating Russia,” Reinsalu told the agency.

Posting his photo with Zelensky on Twitter, the Estonian minister didn’t mention his visa ban idea but said that he discussed with the Ukrainian leader Estonia’s continued aid to Ukraine “especially for the coming winter,” as well as “ramping up defensive aid.”

“We must also start with Ukraine’s reconstruction despite Russia’s brutal war,” he wrote.

Estonia is known for its tough stance on Moscow. Following the launch of the Russian military offensive in Ukraine in late February, Estonia stopped issuing most of visa types for Russians. Some other EU member states, such as Lithuania and Latvia, as well as Poland and Czech Republic, also imposed visa restrictions also imposed visa restrictions but an EU-wide ban requires approval of all 27 bloc members.

Estonian Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets said recently that the Schengen visa rules make it impossible for Estonia to stop people with visas issued by other countries from entering Estonia. Therefore, he said, the issue should be discussed at EU level.

On August 1, the European Commission, responding to a query from Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, clarified that consideration of visa applications as well as the issuance of short-term Schengen visas is a matter for individual EU countries. It also stressed that such decisions are being made on a case-by-case basis as there are always groups of people eligible for the visas, such as family members, journalists, dissidents and those who ask for visas on humanitarian grounds. 

Several countries, including Finland, have been discussing how to limit the issuing of tourist visas for Russian citizens. According to a recent survey, conducted by Yle, 58% of Finns support a total visa ban.

Poland and Latvia earlier raised the idea of banning all Russians from entering the EU.

Germany’s foreign ministry, however, in a recent comment for Deutsche Welle, said that the issuance of Schengen visas can be stopped only on the basis of consensus among all Schengen countries, and at the moment there is no such decision.