The European Union(EU) has announced it would be suspending visas for Russian citizens in an effort to limit border crossings from Russia to the EU as the war in Ukraine continues to escalate.
European foreign ministers reached political consensus to fully suspend the visa facilitation agreement between the European Union and Russia. The agreement will now have to be approved by all member states at the European Council level.
“Since mid of July, we have seen a substantial increase on border crossing from Russia, in the neighboring states. And this has become a security risk for these neighboring states,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said during a press conference in Prague on Wednesday, August 31.
Borrell said that the bloc agreed to significantly reduce the number of new visas issued by EU member states to Russian citizens.
Borrell added that EU member states have seen “many Russians traveling for leisure, shopping, as if no war was raging in Ukraine.”
“We are not business as usual, it cannot be business as usual,” he added.
“It’s going to be more difficult, it’s going to be longer the process. And consequently, the number of new visas will be substantially reduced,” he added
In response, Russia warned the EU of consequences over the suspension.
According to state news agency RIA Novosti, Russia will decide what to do in retaliation.
“Violation, circumvention or withdrawal by the EU from the visa facilitation agreement with Russia won’t be left without consequences. We will decide for ourselves whether the measures will be symmetrical, asymmetric or something that the EU does not expect,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told the news agency.
“If Brussels decides to shoot itself in the foot again, then it is their choice,” he said