Estonia's Russian tourist visa ban enters into force
Russian citizens holding a Schengen visa issued by Estonia for tourism, business, sports, or culture are banned from entering the Baltic state.
Estonia's decision to deny entry to most Russian citizens with Schengen visas issued by the Baltic country enters into force on Thursday.
The visa restrictions were approved by the Tallinn government last week as part of sanctions imposed on Moscow for its military operation in Ukraine.
Russians with Estonian visas will now be turned away at the checkpoints in Narva, Luhamaa, and Koidula on the border between the two countries.
Diplomats and their families are exempt from the new rule, as are those involved in international cargo and passenger transportation; those with the right to free movement under EU law; those who need to enter the Baltic nation for humanitarian reasons; and close relatives of Estonian citizens or permanent residents.
This comes after Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas called last Tuesday on all members of the Schengen zone to stop issuing visas for Russians.
On his account, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky's call was issued lately in an interview for the Washington Post to implement a year-long prohibition on all Russian travelers and energy imports.
Earlier, Estonia's Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu similarly expressed he wanted to see an EU-wide travel visa ban on Russian citizens in the next round of the bloc’s sanctions on Moscow.
Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov touched on the issue of the Schengen region denying visas to Russians, underlining that this would prompt Moscow to take retaliatory measures.
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Estonia ceased to issue most types of visas for Russians. Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and the Czech Republic – have also imposed visa restrictions.
However, Estonia can’t prevent Russian citizens from entering if they have a visa issued by another EU member state.
For a total EU-wide to ban to be implemented, it would require the approval of all of the bloc’s 27 member-states.