European Union foreign ministers are likely to agree to suspend a visa facilitation agreement with Moscow and make Russians wait longer and pay more for their visas, diplomats said on Tuesday, while the bloc remained split over an outright EU travel ban, Reuters reports.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock argued in favour of not going further. “It is crucial not to punish dissidents who are trying to leave Russia”, she said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba swiftly rejected the argument that travelling to the West could change the Russians’ minds, saying Moscow fought a brief war with Georgia and annexed Crimea since securing easier EU visas in 2007.
“Travel to the EU has had zero transformative effect on Russia,” he said. “To transform Russia, shut the door on Russian tourists.”
Eastern and Nordic countries strongly back a tourist visa ban and some said they could go for a regional one if there was no agreement at EU level.
“If all 27 EU countries fail to reach an agreement, a regional solution for the countries most affected by the flow of Russian tourists may be sought in the future,” said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.