EU Commission updates visa guidelines amid Russian security threat

EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson

EU Home Affairs Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, on Friday announced that Security risks were at the centre of updated visa guidelines for Russian citizens entering the European Union.

Johansson said at a press conference that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian provinces and his partial mobilisation had caused an “escalation of the security threat.”

Johannson said EU member states were called upon to carry out coordinated and thorough controls of Russian citizens at EU’s external borders in recommendations to restrict visa issuance.

The EU executive arm unveiled the guidelines at the request of the EU member states against the background of Russian citizens fleeing Putin’s partial mobilisation.

However, the increased scrutiny at EU borders applies to “Russian citizens fleeing military mobilisation,” a statement issued by the commission said.

In addition to increased scrutiny of visas for Russian nationals, Schengen visas, which allow free travelling within the Schengen area’s 26 member countries should be denied to persons seeking to stay longer than 90 days, the commission said.

Instead, Russian citizens should apply for a long-term visa for the Schengen region to be granted based on national criteria for such documentation or a residence permit.

The new guidelines also recommend restricting visa access to Russian nationals that are applying for the travel permits in third countries, such as Georgia.

Johannson also stressed that existing visas may be revoked in response to security risks.

However, no restrictions on dissidents, journalists or the right to claim asylum should be introduced, she said.

EU border agency, Frontex, said earlier this week that they recorded a 30 per cent increase of Russian citizens entering the EU in one week, entering mostly via Finland and Estonia. (dpa/NAN)