Estonia joins call for ban on Russian tourists

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Estonia today joined Finland and Latvia in urging the EU to close its borders to Russian travelers, echoing a call from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“Stop issuing tourist visas to Russians. Visiting #Europe is a privilege, not a human right,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted, a day after Zelenskyy urged the West to introduce a travel ban.

“The most important sanctions are to close the borders — because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with the Washington Post published Monday, adding that Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.”

The bloc has issued a series of sanctions against Russia since its invasion of Ukraine, including a ban on air travel to Russia, but has not banned Russian travelers, who can still enter the EU by bus or car.

Kallas pointed out that most enter the EU through the bloc’s eastern border with Russia, putting a burden on Estonia, Latvia and Finland as the “sole access points.”

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Monday her “personal position is that tourism should be restricted,” and that she expected the issue to be discussed at upcoming EU leaders’ summits.

“It’s not right that at the same time as Russia is waging an aggressive, brutal war of aggression in Europe, Russians can live a normal life, travel in Europe, be tourists. It’s not right,” she told Finland’s national public broadcaster Yle.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs is also in favor of a ban, telling POLITICO in an interview last month that EU countries should restrict issuing visas for Russians, with an exemption for humanitarian reasons.