The EU Can’t Decide On Whether To Ban Travel To Russia

( )- Countries in the European Union can’t seem to come to a consensus on whether they should implement a visa travel ban on Russia.

Many leaders are wondering whether doing so would put additional pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his war in neighboring Ukraine, or whether it might tick him off enough to continue going.

The idea first was brought up by Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine. He proposed that other countries in Europe should not grant any more tourist visas to citizens of Russia. He believes that it may serve as another type of sanction placed on Russia for invading Ukraine and continuing their war.

Thus far, though, the leaders of European countries haven’t all decided whether that would be a tactic that would even be effective. Some leaders have said that they are concerned about punishing the regular citizens of Russia who have nothing to do with the war — and some who may even be against it.

Finland was the first country in Europe to take this route. Though they didn’t initiate an outright ban on all tourist visas for people who come from Russia, they did limit the total number that they would give out.

The plan from Finland is to approve only 100 visa applications from Russia on a monthly basis. That would represent a reduction of 90% over the 1,000 that it is used to giving out each month to Russians.

After announcing that his country would do so, the foreign minister of Finland, Pekka Haavisto, said other countries should follow suit. He said:

“If you want to further limit the flow of tourists, it would be good to agree on it together.”

Sanna Marin, the prime minister of Finland, then said that their country alone can’t stop Russian tourists from visiting European nations.

Kaja Kallas, the prime minister of Estonia, said that it’s important for all 26 of the Schengen Zone countries need to be aligned in their approach, as they allow for free movement across all of their borders. He said:

“Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right.”

But, not all countries in Europe believe this is the right move.

Two countries that are opposed to it are Greece and Cyprus. Olaf Scholz, the chancellor of Germany, also said he was opposed to the plans. He said that doing so would punish regular Russian citizens as well as those who are trying to flee the country.

Sanctions on Russia are important, Scholz said, though all countries in Europe have to “also understand that there are a lot of people fleeing from Russia because they disagree with the Russian regime.”

But, a senior diplomat within Germany disagreed with that sentiment, saying that “anyone can apply for a humanitarian visa.” In other words, banning travel visas to people from Russia wouldn’t stop those who are trying to flee the country from entering other European nations.

It may be unlikely that the EU nations come to a singular agreement on travel visas for Russians, as each relies on travelers from that country differently.