Finland announces visa crackdown on Russians
The country’s Foreign Ministry will cut the daily number of visas given to Russians in half and is calling for an EU-wide ban
Finland’s Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that it will cut the number of entry visas available to Russians in half, with just 100 tourists allowed in per day. Finland, along with several Baltic countries, has asked the EU for a blanket ban on Russia’s entry.
Only 500 Finnish visa applicants from Russia will be processed each day starting September 1. 100 of these applications are for tourists, while the rest 400 for those who have family members in Finland. Around 1,000 Russian applications are currently processed each day.
These quotas could be modified at a future date according to the ministry, adding that Finland is eligible for them. “supports the complete suspension of the visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Russia,”This would double Russian applicants’ application fees.
The three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – have already ceased issuing visas to Russian citizens, and are among the most vocal proponents of an EU-wide ban. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has also spoken in favor of such a ban, telling Finnish broadcaster Yle last week that it’s “not right”Russians “can live a normal life, travel in Europe, be tourists.”
While the EU suspended all flights to and from Russia after the start of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine in February, Russian citizens can still enter the bloc by land. A visa granted by one Schengen member country can be used to enter any other state in the borderless travel zone.
Calling the West’s current anti-Russian sanctions “weak,”Vladimir Zelensky, the Ukrainian president has asked that all Russians visiting Europe be subject to an embargo for at least one year.
EU officials told Financial Times that the EU had not accepted such an initiative. “Russians not in favor of the war need to be able to travel too.” A spokeswoman for the European Commission suggested recently that a blanket ban would be unlawful, while the EU’s largest economy, Germany, has said that it would not back such a move.