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Baltic states reach agreement to severely restrict entry to Russian citizens

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By Mark Armstrong  with AFP
Baltic states reach an accord to restrict entry of Russians to EU
Baltic states reach an accord to restrict entry of Russians to EU   -   Copyright  EBU   -  

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are to restrict entry to Russian citizens over the invasion of Ukraine.

The punitive measure, agreed upon at a meeting of Nordic and Baltic foreign ministers, is expected to come into force in the coming weeks. However, there'll be exceptions for humanitarian or family reasons.

"National decisions are effective when they are coordinated and harmonised," said Lithuania's Foreign Minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis. "In other words, we apply the same rules in all states. So that a person who has tried to enter one country and received a negative reaction, a refusal, would not be able to drive two hundred kilometres north or south and cross the border successfully."

At a recent EU gathering on the same issue, member states agreed to suspend a long-standing visa agreement with Russia but stopped short of an outright entry ban.

Some delegates at today's talks, including the Danish foreign minister, said that didn't go far enough.

"I think it`s a provocation to see Russian tourists, for example, on the beaches of Europe or in the cafes of European capitals, when they are bombarding Ukrainian cities and killing civilians and committing war crimes," said Jeppe Kofod.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February around a million Russian citizens have entered the EU legally according to the bloc's border agency Frontex.

The majority did so via Finland or Estonia. Once in Europe, if they are on a Schengen visa, they are free to move on to 26 other nations including non-EU members.