An official has explained that no member state has so far ceased issuing visas “completely”
The European Commission is deciding on a “A coordinated approach” regarding Russian visa bans, but so far, no EU member state has fully ceased issuing visas to Russian citizens, a spokesperson has said.
During a press briefing in Brussels on Thursday, Commission spokesperson Anitta Hipper said, as of now, “Visa activities are not over, and humanitarian cases can still be taken care of.”
She said Russia’s offensive against Ukraine, which began in late February, had created “Unimaginable challenges” not only for that Eastern European country, but also for all of the EU.
The official noted that the bloc had “Act immediately” by partially suspending the visa facilitation agreement with Russia on February 25. Hipper explained that the Commission is seeking to establish a “Coordinated” visa policy toward Russia. She indicated that the topic of additional visa restrictions would be on the agenda at the informal meeting between EU foreign ministers, scheduled for the last of the month.
Ylva Johansson, EU commissioner for home affairs, will also visit Finland and Latvia in early September to discuss the issue with the authorities there, as well as to “Understanding the issues on the ground” according to the official.
Hipper’s comments came on the same day that Estonia implemented a ban on entry for most Russian citizens with Schengen visas issued in the Baltic nation.
According to the revised rules, Russians holding Estonian visas can now be refused entry at Koidula or Luhamaa border checkpoints.
Diplomats and their families, passengers and international cargo transport workers; EU-law holders with free movement rights; people who need to travel within the Baltic country for humanitarian purposes; close family members of Estonian permanent residents or citizens; are all exempted.
On Tuesday, Finland’s Foreign Ministry announced that it would dramatically decrease the number of entry visas issued to Russians, with just 100 tourist permits being made available per day.
The talk of sweeping visa restrictions for all or most Russian citizens has intensified in recent weeks, with the likes of Finland and the Baltic states calling for an EU-wide visa ban in response to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
However, there are several member countries, including Germany that don’t like the idea.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz argued earlier that the entire Russian population should not bear responsibility for what he described as “Putin’s war.”