EU says ‘stricter assessment’ needed for Russians seeking travel visas

 Wednesday, October 5, 2022 

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The European Commission said on Friday that an escalation of the security threat by Moscow meant EU member states should make “stricter assessments” of applications by Russians for travel visas, especially those made from third countries.

European Union countries have been discussing this week how to treat Russians trying to get into the bloc to avoid President Vladimir Putin’s call-up for the war in Ukraine.

The number of draft-age men heading abroad since Putin called up 300,000 reservists last week has posed a dilemma for EU members, particularly eastern countries, that had been limiting Russians’ access in response to the war.

It has also raised fears of possible security risks at frontiers.

Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, presenting new guidelines from the EU’s executive Commission, said member states should carefully assess visa applications in light of the heightened threat.

Member states need to do a very thorough security assessment and, if a person could be a security threat or be a threat towards the international relation for some of the member states, this person should not be issued a visa, she said in a news conference.

She said visas should not be issued for those who intend to stay longer than 90 days and – noting that many Russians had recently left – said EU states should not accept Schengen visa applications from Russian citizens now in third countries.

However, she said all Russians still had the right to apply for asylum, and could apply for a long-term or residence visa.

Pointing to Putin’s intention to annex four regions of Ukraine, she said that this is clearly an escalation of the conflict, an escalation of the war, and that means also an escalation of the security threat towards the European Union, and they need to act on that and they need to follow this very closely.

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