Finland will slash Russian visas by 90 percent

Finland’s government announced Tuesday it would reduce Russian visas by 90 percent due to Moscow’s ongoing war on Ukraine.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said that starting from September, Finland would accept only 10 percent of visa applications by Russian tourists. This means Finland will accept only around 100 visa applications daily, compared with around 1,000 successful applications per day presently.

Exceptions could be made for some groups like journalists, dissidents or activists, via a potential national humanitarian visa. Haavisto said his ministry would consult with the interior ministry over the scheme.

Haavisto also said that Finland would propose with the three EU Baltic countries a joint solution on Russian visas, when the bloc’s foreign ministers meet at the end of August. He echoed Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s call for a common EU position on the matter.

In Finland discontent has increased, as many Russians drive to Helsinki and catch flights to holiday destinations in other parts of the EU, in order to circumvent aviation sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russian travel bans are continuing to divide the EU, as Ukraine continues to demand a prohibition. While the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland stopped issuing certain visas in order to increase pressure on Moscow, Germany has refused to do so. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a press conference Monday that a Russian travel ban undermines targeted sanctions, adding “this is not the war of the Russian people, but it is [Vladimir] Putin’s war.”

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