Third EU country calls on bloc to close borders to all Russian tourists

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NARVA, ESTONIA - MAY 27: A view of the border crossing from Estonia into Russia over the Narva River on May 27, 2022 in Narva, Estonia. The town of Narva sits on the very edge of Nato's eastern flank, with a population of almost 60,000, with 97% speaking Russian. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A view of the border crossing from Estonia into Russia over the Narva River in Estonia. (Getty)

Estonia has become the third EU nation to call on the bloc to ban all Russian tourists following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The northern European nation joined its neighbours Finland and Latvia in making a plea to close borders to all Russians.

On Tuesday, Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas tweeted: "Stop issuing tourist visas to Russians. Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right.

“Air travel from Russia is shut down. It means while Schengen countries issue visas, neighbours to Russia carry the burden (Finland, Estonia, Latvia – sole access points). Time to end tourism from Russia now.”

Read more: Ukrainian special forces 'carried out daring Crimea airbase attack' behind enemy lines

MADRID, SPAIN - JUNE 30: Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas holds a press conference after the NATO Summit at the IFEMA Convention Center in Madrid, Spain on June 30, 2022. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas wants an EU ban on Russian tourists. (Getty)

It came as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy also asked Western nations to deny entry to Russians “until they change their philosophy”.

He told Washington Post: “The most important sanctions are to close the borders — because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land”

Latvia and Finland have been pushing for the ban.

Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin said she personally thought “tourism should be restricted” and expected the issue to be on agenda in upcoming EU meetings.

Latvian foreign inister Edgars Rinkēvičs tweeted last month: “EU must consider Russia as state sponsor of terrorism, I reiterate proposal to impose EU tourist visa ban for citizens.”

Read more: Russia has ‘new ground forces’ as shelling kills 13 in Dnipro

The Kremlin has threatened to retaliate if Finland bans Russian tourists.

Moscow said it would “react very negatively” should its neighbour refuse Russian citizens entry after it emerged there was growing support for this in Finland, Russian news outlet Interfax reported.

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said: “All such actions against Russian citizens would require countermeasures and a response. This should be understandable and expected.”

Estonia and Latvia are members of Nato, while Finland has been accepted but full ratification may take up to a year.

Imatra border station chief Antti Vahe looks on, at the border crossing point with Russia, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Imatra, Finland March 23, 2022. Picture taken March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Essi Lehto
Finland's Imatra border crossing point with Russia. (Reuters)

Russian shelling killed at least 13 people in Ukraine's central Dnipropetrovsk region overnight, governor Valentyn Reznychenko said on Wednesday, as the UK said Russia had "almost certainly" established a major new ground force to support its war.

Reznychenko said more than 20 buildings were damaged in Marganets, a city across the Dnipro river from the Russian-captured Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, where there have been other reports of shelling.

The new Russian ground force, called the 3rd Army Corps, is based out of the city of Mulino, east of Russia's capital Moscow, Britain said in an intelligence update on Twitter.

In the northern town of Bucha, 15 bodies were buried on Tuesday after they were found four months after Russian forces withdrew from the area.

The Kyiv government has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion and said it had identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.

Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes and accused Ukraine of staging them to smear its forces.