The bloc does not want to cut itself from Russia’s “civil society” entirely
The EU will continue granting visas to “specific groups” of Russians, the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell said on Wednesday. The official made the remarks at a press conference after the EU’s foreign ministers opted to fully suspend an agreement with Moscow that allowed Russian citizens to apply for EU visas under a simplified procedure.
“There is a common understanding that this will allow for visas to be granted on an individual basis [after] a thorough assessment of each individual case, and especially for specific groups of people,”Borrell said.
The diplomat did not provide exact details on the specific groups in question, signaling, however, that visas will be issued primarily to opponents of Russia’s current political leadership.
“We do not want to cut ourselves from those Russians who are against the war in Ukraine. We do not want to cut ourselves from the Russian civil society,”He said.
Borrell gave no timeframe for when the visa agreement between Russia and EU would be suspended. The move constitutes a step up in the EU’s policies amid the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as the bloc had previously suspended issuing visas only to specific Russian individuals, he said.
“Until now, it was partially suspended for special collectives, groups of people – officials, entrepreneurs – and now it is fully suspended,”Borrell spoke. “It means that it will significantly reduce the number of new visas issued by the EU Member States. [The process]It will be harder, but it will take longer. And consequently, the number of new visas will be substantially reduced.”
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