The European Council fully suspends visa facilitation for Russians
Doubling the price of visa fees, the European Council is also placing hurdles in the facilitation process.
The European Council announced that it has fully suspended visa facilitation between the EU and Russia, thus reversing the agreement that served to simplify visa applications for Russian citizens.
The council, in a statement on its website on Friday, explained that the decision will entail increasing visa fees from €35 to €80 - more than double the initial agreement. More restrictive rules will also be implemented regarding multiple-entry visas.
“Today’s decision is a direct consequence of Russia’s actions and further proof of our unwavering commitment to Ukraine and its people,” said Vit Rakusan, Czech Interior Minister, in a statement.
The announcement is to be implemented as of Monday, next week.
Earlier this week, the European Union Commission supported a proposal put forward by EU foreign ministers to suspend visa facilitation to Russians.
EU states have also suggested banning Russian tourists altogether - however, that will cost the EU €21 billion in losses, which is why it did not go through. "By drawing an iron curtain around their countries, they punish themselves because of their own stupidity and ignorance,” said State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin on his official Telegram channel.
In early August, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky mused that the Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy,” and urged the West to refuse entry to Russian tourists. Moscow responded by saying that such proposals would only have a negative effect on all involved and called the measure “discriminatory.”
Russian official: EU suspension of visas to be met with consequences
At the end of August, it was asserted that the decision of the EU to suspend the facilitated visa regime with Russia will not remain without consequences, Moscow can respond with both symmetrical and asymmetric measures, which are not expected in Brussels; if they decide to “shoot themselves in the foot” once again, then this is their choice, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.
This came after EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that EU countries had reached a political agreement to completely suspend visa facilitation with Russia, but that certain categories of Russian citizens would still be able to obtain EU visas.
The EU top diplomat also said that the bloc's common approach will help to avoid circumvention of visa restrictions.