EU's visa agreement with Russia suspended

EU's visa agreement with Russia suspended
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"The number of new visas will be substantially reduced," EU's foreign policy chief has said after foreign ministers decided to suspend a 2007 visa agreement with Russia.

A suspension of a 2007 visa agreement with Russia was announced on Wednesday after a meeting of European Union foreign affairs ministers in Prague.

The decision by foreign ministers fell short of a blanket visa ban on Russian tourists, supported by the administrations of some Baltic countries, Denmark and the Czech Republic, and opposed by several countries including Germany and France.

The suspension of the 2007 agreement, a step that has been taken as part of EU sanctions against Russian invasion of Ukraine, signifies an intensification of scrutiny over the future visa applications by Russian tourists.

It will likely make the visa application process much more expensive and burdensome for Russian nationals planning to visit any EU member country.

"It’s going to be more difficult and longer, and consequently the number of new visas will be substantially reduced," said Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, at the end of the meeting of foreign affairs ministers.

Ministers also tasked the European Commission with looking into possible ways to tackle the estimated 12 million visas issued to Russian citizens that are still in circulation.

Borrell had personally opposed the total ban against Russian citizens, arguing the bloc needed to be "more selective" and leave the door open for those attempting to flee Vladimir Putin's regime.

"We don’t want to cut ourselves from those Russians who are against the war in Ukraine," he said.

Germany, France, Portugal and Spain took similar positions against a blanket visa ban.