Putin eases entry rules for Ukrainians
Ukrainian citizens will now be able to enter Russia even if their national passports have expired, a new decree signed by President Vladimir Putin stipulates. Moscow and Kiev ratified a visa free travel agreement back in 1997, with Ukraine refusing to renew it and allowing it to lapse on January 1, 2023.
Moscow, however, chose to unilaterally let Ukrainian nationals cross the border without a visa.
The decree, which was approved by the Russian head of state and published on Friday, also lists other alternative forms of ID that will be treated as sufficient for entry. These include an external passport (intended for international travel), a diplomatic passport, and a special sailor or pilot ID. Children under 16 can cross into Russia with only a birth certificate.
Additionally, according to the document, “Ukrainian citizens can enter the Russian Federation from Ukrainian territory on the basis of documents … whose validity has expired.”
Last week, EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton told the media that the bloc had “welcomed … almost 10 million Ukrainian refugees” since last February, when Russia launched its military operation in the neighboring country.
According to a recent report by Statista, 1.09 million people have arrived in Germany and 968,000 in Poland, making them the top destinations in the EU.
The same source, however, estimates that Russia has received the largest number of Ukrainians so far – around 1.27 million.
Meanwhile, last January, TASS, citing Russian officials, reported that more than 5.2 million Ukrainians had crossed over into the country by that time.