Latvia will today implement new measures restricting entry for Russian citizens.
Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics announced the decision after a meeting between Nordic and Baltic foreign ministers. It will follow in Estonia’s footsteps, almost completely preventing border crossings for Russians who have Schengen visas. There will be exceptions for Russians crossing the border for humanitarian reasons.
Two weeks ago, the European Union suspended a treaty that expedited the visa application process for Russia, meaning Russian applicants travelling for non-essential reasons are more likely to face visa refusal. However, the bloc stopped short of an outright ban. This has created a rift between Member States, with many pro-ban Nordic and Baltic countries calling it a public security issue, while the anti-ban France and Germany argue that the move would isolate Russians with ties to the West.
While Moscow recently stated it would not respond in kind to the EU’s treaty suspension, it may well change its stance on this as more countries implement severe measures. The EU is unlikely to implement a total ban for as long as Berlin and Paris oppose it, although increasing pressure by Ukraine and Baltic Member States may force their hand.
Laurence is an Analyst and weekly contributor to The Daily Brief, he focuses on geopolitical and economic issues occuring in Europe and Eurasia.