Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania closed their borders on Monday to most Russian residents in response to the huge home help in Russia for the war in Ukraine.
Under the coordinated journey ban, Russians wishing to journey to the Baltic international locations and to Poland as vacationers or for business, sports activities or cultural functions won’t be allowed in even when they maintain legitimate visas for the European Union’s checks-free Schengen Area.
The prime ministers of the three Baltic nations and of Poland agreed earlier this month to cease admitting Russian residents, saying the transfer would defend the safety of the European Union member international locations neighbouring Russia.
“Russia is an unpredictable and aggressive state. Three-quarters of its residents help the war. It is unacceptable that individuals who help the war can freely journey world wide, into Lithuania, the EU,” Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite stated Monday.
“Such help for hostilities can pose threats to the safety of our nation and the EU as a complete,” she added.
The ban contains exceptions for humanitarian causes, relations of EU residents, Russian dissidents, serving diplomats, transportation staff and Russians with residence permits or long-stay nationwide visas from the 26 Schengen international locations.
There have been no indications of latest journey restrictions on Monday for Russians looking for to enter Poland, although the nation agreed with the Baltic international locations to introduce the ban by September 19.
Poland, which borders Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave, nonetheless has tight restrictions on Russian vacationers remaining in place from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the japanese Polish metropolis of Bialystok, a member of the Russian Culture and Education Association in Poland stated a brand new ban would have hit a lot more durable if the pandemic restrictions had not already largely restricted journey and trade contacts with Russia.
“After greater than two years of restrictions, we see no prospects for an enchancment, and that’s the worst half,” Andrzej Romanczuk, a Polish citizen, instructed The Associated Press.
The Lithuanian Interior Ministry stated 11 Russian residents have been stopped from getting into that nation beginning at midnight. Most have been making an attempt to enter by land from Kaliningrad or from Belarus. No incidents have been reported.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu stated in an interview with the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat final week that Russian travels posed safety issues as a result of “we all know that Russian spies have used faux IDs and carried out numerous actions in Europe utilizing vacationer visas.” He additionally cited allegations that Ukrainian refugees in Europe have been pressured to serve wealthy Russians purchasers in spas and different institutions.
“I believe this can be a perverse state of affairs,” Reinsalu stated.
Estonia, a nation of some 1.3 million residents, has registered a whole bunch of hundreds of border crossings by Russian residents because the begin of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The international locations can’t, nonetheless, cease Russian residents from getting into by way of one other Schengen nation.
They need related measures to be taken by all 27 EU member states, however that has not been agreed up to now, though some journey restrictions – on flights from Russia to the EU – have been already launched. The new ban is mainly about land journey.
The Czech Republic, which doesn’t share a border with Russia, was one of many first EU international locations to cease issuing visas to Russian residents.
The authorities in Prague authorized the measure the day after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The three Baltic states have been as soon as Soviet Union republics, whereas Poland and Czechia – then a part of Czechoslovakia – have been Moscow’s satellites. That and earlier historical past makes them particularly delicate to Moscow’s aggressive insurance policies.