Baltic nations impose visa ban for Russian citizens over Ukraine war
Poland and three Baltic nations Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have closed their borders on Monday to the Russian citizens in response to the ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine, and as a sign of regional support to Ukraine. Under this coordinated travel ban the Russians who wish to travel to these countries as tourists or for purposes including business, sports or cultural will not be allowed entry, despite of holding valid visas for the European Union’s checks-free Schengen Area.
The prime ministers of the three Baltic countries and Poland had agreed earlier this month to enact a ban on entry of Russian citizens, citing it as a move to protect security of the four European Union member nations. “Russia is an unpredictable and aggressive state. Three-quarters of its citizens support the war. It is unacceptable that people who support the war can freely travel around the world, into Lithuania, the EU,” Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said Monday. “Such support for hostilities can pose threats to the security of our country and the EU as a whole,” she added.
The ban, however, includes certain exceptions such as entry for humanitarian reasons, family members of EU citizens, Russian dissidents, serving diplomats, transportation employees and Russians with residence permits or long-stay national visas from the 26 Schengen countries.
The regulations were signed on Monday by Poland’s interior minister, Mariusz Kaminski, which will impose the ban on Russian travelers from September 26.
The European Union has already banned air travel from Russia in response to its invasion in Ukraine. At a last month’s EU summit, the bloc’s 27 members were divided over enacting a broader visa ban on Russian citizens. The main reason for this was the concern that thero desire to pressurize Putin must not punish ordinary Russian citizens, despite their stand on the war.