EU further tightens visas for Russian citizens over 'security threat'
The European Commission on Friday issued new guidelines to further tighten visa access for Russian citizens.
Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said the new rules were in response to the security threat letting in a higher number of Russian citizens fleeing military conscription could pose and to the "serious situation" prompted by the illegal annexation by Russia of four Ukrainian regions and the reported attacks on two underwater pipelines.
She called on member states to conduct a "more thorough" security assessment of each short-term visa application and said that if there is any doubt the person intends to stay longer than the standard 90-day period or could pose a security threat, the visa should be refused
"We have heard Russian representatives talking about going to EU member states and using the same language as they used when they poisoned the Skripals, Yulia Skripal," she told reporters.
"We have also seen Russian citizens that have come with tourist visas with the aim to provoke Ukrainian refugees and to make propaganda for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin."
"I think the overall situation is that the security threat overall is much, much more serious. That means that we have to do much, much more thorough security assessments for each individual that we let into the EU from Russia," she added.
Some 66,000 Russian citizens legally entered the EU in the week following Putin's announcement of a partial mobilisation that could see up to 300,000 men conscripted to go fight in Ukraine, according to figures from Frontex, the bloc's external border agency. This is a 30% rise from the previous week.
Most of them arrived in Finland and Estonia, which both share land borders with Russia.