According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the EU may stop issuing Schengen visas to Russians. Ivan Nechaev, deputy director of the department’s press and information department, said such steps would not go unnoticed by Moscow.
“Even without pan-European consensus, we cannot exclude the full-scale adoption of such discriminatory decisions, both at EU level and by individual states,” he said. At the same time, the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not specify specific intervention measures.
Dmitry Novikov, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Relations, believes that it is impossible to restrict the entry of Europeans into Russia.
“The issue of human rights that the West has forgotten should not be an empty phrase for us. It would be wrong to violate the rights of citizens and to create problems for them from scratch. I don’t think it would be a good decision for Moscow to impose wholesale sanctions on the entry ban on citizens of a particular European country,” the politician told socialbites.ca.
He emphasized that it is worth leaving opportunities to build relations with the West and not acting on the principle that “we will respond the same no matter what”.
Talking about the possibility of refusal to issue visas to Russians, Ivan Nechaev also talked about the desire of the Latvian authorities not to renew the residence permits of Russian citizens. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation called such a step a “blatant disregard” of international obligations and a “malicious violation” of the rights of residents of the republic.
Nechaev said it could be seen as “a manifestation of xenophobia and neo-Nazism.”
Riga condemned Russia’s actions in Ukraine from the first day of special operations. At the same time, a ban was imposed on issuing visas to Russians other than journalists and family members of EU citizens.
At the end of July, the Latvian State Security Service began to demand written confirmation from Russians and Belarusians of their negative attitude towards the Russian special operation.
On August 16, Latvian Prime Minister Karins Krisjanis said that “Russia is waging war in Ukraine” while Russians are spending their holidays in Europe or obtaining a residence permit. He said Latvian authorities had “conceptually agreed” on “not renewing” residence documents for Russian citizens and “restricting entry into Latvia on Schengen visas”.
Latvian President Egils Levits suggested that the residence permits given to the Russians be revised and that the documents of those supporting the military special operations be revoked.
On August 18, it became known that the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the republic was preparing changes to the immigration law. The agency proposes to suspend the re-issuance of residence permits to citizens of Russia and Belarus until 30 June 2023.
According to the Baltic news agency BNS, 9,189 Russian citizens and 2,432 Belarusians have valid residence permits in the republic.
The Russian side will not leave without a “necessary reaction” from the actions of Helsinki, which has decided to halve the number of applications received from Russians for Schengen visas.
“The decision of the Finnish authorities to restrict the acceptance of applications by Russian citizens for visas to Finland fits perfectly into the mainstream of another Russophobic campaign launched by the Baltic states in individual EU countries,” said Ivan Nechaev, spokesman for Russia. State Department during a briefing on Aug. 18.
Earlier, the Finnish government announced that from September, a limit on visa applications for Russians will be set – a maximum of 500 per day. Of these, 20% can be submitted by tourists and 80% by people traveling for non-tourism reasons.
That’s why diplomats want to pay more attention to citizens who want to visit Finland for family, work or education reasons.
At the same time, Finnish ministers assured that the authorities would not revoke Schengen visas already issued to Russians. However, only 10% of new tourist applications from Russia will receive a permit to enter Finland.
Since August 18, visa restrictions have been introduced in Estonia for Russian citizens. From this day, those who have already obtained a visa will not be able to enter the territory of the republic. Except for those traveling to Estonia to visit a close relative with citizenship or long-term residence permit.
In addition, Russians who have Schengen visas from other countries, diplomats working in Estonia and their families can enter the country. The UN believes Tallinn’s measures discriminate against Russians.
The EC reminds that EU countries can independently decide who can enter and who cannot.
The authorities of this country have not yet reached a consensus. For example, Tino Krupalla, leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, said the party’s politicians would “pressure” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz not to prevent tourists from Russia from visiting the country.
The disagreement was also noted by the adviser to the President of Lithuania Asta Skaisgirytė. He emphasized that not only Germany, but also Southern European countries, which are especially interested in the problem of restoring the tourism sector after the pandemic, have doubts.
Scholz sees nothing wrong with arguing about this: “It is important that we discuss. Debates are needed in a democratic world. I think there is room for maneuver in different countries. It always is. It is also acceptable that we have a discussion about what needs to be done at the European level.”
An informal meeting of Foreign Ministers of EU countries is scheduled for 31 August. Citing a source in Brussels, TASS writes that ministers wanted to discuss the possibility of amending the Schengen Law to reduce the issuance of visas to almost all Russians.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had previously offered to close European borders for the Russians. In an interview with The Washington Post, he said it would take a year to “look at the result.”