Limited Tourist Visas for Russians

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Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda says he supports calls for the EU to stop giving out tourist visas to Russian citizens, saying that “all of Russia” must feel the consequences of the war in Ukraine. “I’d support all measures, including this one, which would very clearly show the aggressor its place,” he told reporters on August 31. According to Nausėda, the war was started by Russia and not just President Vladimir Putin.

“The Russian people support this war, at least for now,” the Lithuanian president said. “Russia must feel the consequences of this war: not only Putin, but all of Russia. Because, unfortunately, this is Russia’s war,” and at a time when innocent blood is being shed in Ukraine, a very large number of people in Russia agree with the  war.

The Czech Republic, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, has proposed that a visa ban for all Russian citizens be added to the bloc’s sanctions on Moscow. These measures are expected to be discussed at EU foreign ministers’ meeting next week. Berlin opposes such a move.

The Baltic countries, Poland and possibly Finland are considering a regional solution to bar Russian tourists from entering their territories if no bloc-wide agreement is reached.

According to Nausėda, it will be difficult to reach a consensus in the EU and he would support regional restrictions if the talks fail.

“Will we come to such a decision? It won’t be easy. But I remember that [agreeing on] the EU candidate status for Ukraine was also difficult and at one point seemed impossible. Anything is possible if you have a very clear goal and make every effort to achieve it,” the president said.

“If we fail to reach a common solution in the near future, then, yes, we will certainly think about a regional format,” he added.

In such a case, as many countries as possible will be invited to join, according to the Lithuanian president. “If it is only the Baltic states, it will only be a measure of limited effect, and probably not very scary for the aggressor. But if we manage to reach a significantly broader consensus, first among the countries closest to Russia, it will be a more effective measure,” he said.

Lithuania was one of the first EU countries to stop issuing new Schengen and national visas to Russian citizens. Tallinn has recently gone a step further, barring entry to Russian tourists with Schengen visas already issued by Estonia.