Estonia to ban entry to Russians with tourist visas


Copenhagen, Denmark — Estonia decided on Thursday to bar people from neighboring Russia with tourist visas from entering the northernmost Baltic country following the war in Ukraine.

“The possibility for Russian citizens to visit Estonia in large numbers or to visit Europe via Estonia is incompatible with the meaning of the sanctions we have established,” Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said as quoted by the Baltic News Service.

The European Union, of which Estonia is a member, already banned air travel from Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. But Russians can still travel overland to Estonia and then apparently take flights to other European destinations.

By imposing the sanction, Estonia wants Russia “to be unable to continue its ordinary international life also at the level of its citizens”, Reinsalu said according to BNS, the region’s main news agency. He added that they had observed “a massive growth in the number of Russian citizens transiting through or arriving in Estonia”.

BNS said exceptions to Thursday’s sanction included Russian citizens with long-term residence permits; those who come to visit close relatives; workers involved in the international transport of goods and passengers, as well as people entering the country for humanitarian reasons.

The Estonian sanction applies from August 18. Estonia and Russia share a border nearly 300 kilometers (186 miles) long.

“I call on other governments to follow such steps,” Reinsalu wrote on Twitter.

Earlier this week, Estonian and Finnish leaders urged other European countries to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens, saying they should not be able to vacation in Europe while the Russian government is waging war in Ukraine. .

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that “visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right” and that it is “time to end tourism from Russia now”.

A day earlier, his Finnish counterpart, Sanna Marin, had told Finnish TV channel YLE that “it is not right for Russia to wage an aggressive and brutal war of aggression in Europe, for the Russians to be able to wage a normal life, traveling in Europe, being tourists.”

Russian companies have reportedly started offering car journeys from St. Petersburg to Helsinki and Lappeenranta airports in Finland, which have direct connections to several places in Europe. Russia’s second largest city is 300 kilometers (186 miles) from the Finnish capital.

Visas issued by Finland and Estonia are valid in most of Europe’s visa-free travel zone, known as the “Schengen area” which is made up of 26 countries: 22 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Normally, people and goods move freely between these countries without border controls. Nineteen other countries outside this travel zone allow foreigners using a Schengen visa.

Due to the war, Latvia has already decided to no longer issue visas to Russians. Poland said on Wednesday it was no longer issuing tourist visas to Russians.


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