EU to suspend visa travel agreement with Russia, reports state

Russian tourists having their passports checked in Finland (AFP via Getty Images)
Russian tourists having their passports checked in Finland (AFP via Getty Images)

European Union foreign ministers will back a suspension of its visa facilitation agreement with Moscow this week, according to reports.

The bloc’s attempts to curb the number of travel permits issued comes amid threats from some eastern member states to unilaterally close their borders to Russian tourists.

The Czech Republic and Poland have already axed visas to Russian tourists, an action Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky called for.

But others have continued to grant the travel documents under the Schengen free-movement agreement.

The Financial Times reports ministers plan to give political support to suspending the EU-Russia visa facilitation at a two-day meeting in Prague starting on Tuesday.

One of three senior EU officials involved in the talks who spoke to the FT said: “It is inappropriate for Russian tourists to stroll in our cities, on our marinas.

“We have to send a signal to the Russian population that this war is not OK, it is not acceptable.”

Parts of the 2007 deal relating to free movement of government officials and businessmen were suspended in February.

A wider suspension would remove preferential treatment for Russians when applying for all EU visas, requiring more documents, making them more expensive and significantly increasing waiting times.

“We are in an exceptional situation and it requires exceptional steps. We want to go beyond suspending the visa facilitation,” the senior EU official added.

Germany is among countries which have cautioned against an outright ban.

Finland, Poland and the Baltic countries, which border Russia, have suggested they are prepared to stop allowing Russians with tourist visas to enter their territories.