Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (file photo)
Estonia plans to bar Russian citizens with Schengen visas that were issued by the Baltic state from entering the country because of Russia's ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said after a government session on August 11 that, although the Schengen visas issued by his country will remain valid, they will not be accepted for entry into Estonia. Estonia stopped issuing new tourist visas to Russians shortly after the invasion of Ukraine in February, except for the relatives of Estonian citizens. Reinsalu emphasized that the decision affects only the estimated 50,000 visas issued by Estonia, adding that the government plans to discuss in the coming days ways of barring all Russian citizens from entering Estonia. The minister also said that holders of Schengen visas issued by Estonia will be able to enter other countries of the Schengen area. The move does not affect diplomats and members of their families, individuals involved in international transportation businesses, people who need to visit Estonia for humanitarian reasons, or the close relatives of Estonian citizens and permanent residents. In addition, people who have a right to move freely across the European Union under EU laws will also be able to enter Estonia. Estonia and Finland have called on other EU countries to ban tourist visas for all Russian citizens over the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine. The issue will be discussed on the EU level because current EU legislation does not allow for such a move. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ivan Nechayev on August 11 condemned the calls for a visa ban as "overt manifestations of chauvinism and a reckless attempt to cancel all things Russian, which is impossible." Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on August 11 that he is against a ban on tourist visas for Russian citizens.
"This is [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's war, so I have a very hard time with this idea," Scholz told reporters in Berlin. Scholz stressed that he is confident that Western sanctions imposed on Russia because of the war in Ukraine would become less effective if they target "everyone, including innocent people."