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Baltic states and Poland introduce new rules limiting Russian entry

The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as Poland are to jointly place further restrictions on Russian citizens wishing to enter their countries from Monday.

Riga, 19 September 2022 (dpa/MIA) – The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as Poland are to jointly place further restrictions on Russian citizens wishing to enter their countries from Monday.

All four countries will from now on no longer permit Russian citizens with a Schengen visa for tourism, business, sport or cultural purposes to enter their territory.

However, certain exceptions will apply, including for Russians already resident in one of the countries and political dissidents, as well as on humanitarian grounds.

The joint decision of the four EU members comes in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and follows the governments of all four country’s largely suspending the granting of visas and resident permits to Russians.

While it was still possible to enter other countries in the 26-country Schengen area through the four countries, this will now no longer be the case: All Russian citizens with Schengen visas will now be refused entry – regardless of which member country issued it.

The Schengen zone includes 22 EU countries and four other European countries.

According to authorities, on the first day the new rules were in effect, 11 Russian citizens have so far been prevented from entering Lithuania.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas called on other countries to join the Russian entry ban, which remains controversial within the wider EU. “We should use all the tools in the toolbox to make Russia stop this war,” Kallas said on Saturday.

The Lithuanian government said on Monday it is also considering closing its border to citizens of neighbouring Belarus.

“This issue is currently under consideration and talks are taking place,” Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė said on Monday during a visit to the Baltic country’s frontier with Belarus, which also forms part of the European Union’s external border.

“I think there are very serious arguments to consider including Belarus as well,” she said, according to the Baltic News Service. The goal, she said, is to reach an agreement “at the regional and even European level.”

“I see very clearly that the Belarusian regime is also involved in the war [in Ukraine] and is carrying out a hybrid attack with illegal migrants against Lithuania,” Bilotaitė said.

The European Union accuses Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko of bringing migrants from crisis-torn regions to the EU’s border to put pressure on the West after sanctions were imposed. This particularly affected Lithuania.

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