Richard Dannatt says mass mobilization is ‘backfiring on Putin’
On September 19, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland agreed to close their borders to Russians. Finland followed suit on Friday, leaving the small stretch of Norway’s Arctic border with Russia the only land route to Europe. Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) – which imposed a flight ban soon after Vladimir Putin began his invasion of Ukraine – debated whether to impose travel restrictions on the country. block scale.
On September 21, Putin launched Russia’s first public mobilization since World War II, calling up 300,000 reservists.
Since then, thousands of Russian men have sought to flee the country to avoid the project, with queues of several kilometers reported at the Georgian border.
Airline ticket prices to places like Istanbul and Dubai soared in the days following the announcement, with some destinations selling out completely.
Finland – which shares an 830-mile border with Russia – has also seen crossings soar, with more than 50,000 entering the country in just over a week according to finnish border guard data.
The day Putin officially annexed four Ukrainian regions, Finland closed its border
A departure ceremony for Russian reservists called up in Sevastopol, Crimea
As a result, the Finnish government on Friday began barring entry to Russians with EU tourist visas, closing the last direct land route to the EU for those seeking to avoid conscription.
Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told a press conference: “The principle decision aims to completely prevent Russian tourism in Finland and related transit through Finland.”
Mr Haavisto said the continued influx of Russians was damaging the country’s international relations. Indeed, Finland being part of the Schengen area without passport of 26 membersits border is effectively a gateway to almost anywhere in Europe.
The Finnish official had previously expressed concern over a particular route through Helsinki airport that allowed Russians to circumvent the EU-imposed flight ban.
The recent illegitimate referendums organized by Russia in Ukraine and the Nord Stream pipeline leaks were also cited as having led to this decision.
However, exceptions should be considered on a case-by-case basis for Russians wishing to enter the country for family reasons, for their studies or for work. Political dissidents will also be allowed to enter.
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European countries tighten rules on Russians
Thousands of Russians have fled the country to Georgia, causing massive queues at the border
Finland’s decision mirrors what Estonia, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania did just under two weeks earlier. Also part of the Schengen area, the four countries have agreed on a common regional approach to redraw the entry of all Russians holding a Schengen visa.
Estonia and Latvia border the Russian mainland, while Lithuania and Poland share borders with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea.
Last Thursday, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said: “We believe this is becoming a serious threat to our public security and to the entire shared Schengen area. There are people who come with the aim of undermining the security of our countries. »
Ms Kallas added that it was “unacceptable that citizens of the aggressor state can travel freely within the EU, while at the same time people in Ukraine are being tortured and murdered”. Exceptions for dissidents, humanitarian cases, family members and residence permit holders will also be applied at the discretion of each country.
In Poland – one of Russia’s fiercest adversaries and the country that has taken in the most Ukrainian refugees to date – the government said the entry ban was aimed at “preventing direct threats to the public order and security”.
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Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto announced Russia’s entry ban on Thursday
So far, the 27 EU member states have remained at odds over whether to impose a visa ban on all Russians – with a desire to punish Putin’s regime weighed against sympathy for the Russians. ordinary people, not necessarily in favor of invading Ukraine.
However, earlier this month the bloc suspended a visa deal between the EU and Russia, making travel more expensive for Russian tourists. The EU had already started applying visa restrictions to Russian officials and businessmen in May.
This follows the EU’s imposition of a blanket flight ban on all Russian aircraft in the days immediately following the outbreak of war in February.
Germany and France have reportedly led a campaign to tighten visa restrictions for Russians rather than impose an outright ban.
A number of countries, such as Romania, the Netherlands and Belgium, have temporarily stopped issuing short-term visas.
The Storskog border crossing in Norway is the last land route for Russians into the Schengen zone
By Friday, September 30, Russian civilians had only one open border to Europe.
Norway and Russia share a 122-mile border – the northernmost border in Europe and the only one to lie entirely within the Arctic Circle. There is a single crossing point at Storskog, on the E105 highway which goes down to Crimea.
Norway is not part of the EU, but it is part of the Schengen zone. Although the country has kept its Russian border open so far, last week it suspended a longstanding visa-free travel deal with Russia as arrivals to the level crossing increased the last days.
Under increasing pressure to comply with her European allies, Norwegian Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl said in a statement on Friday: “We will close the border quickly if necessary, and changes may come in the short term. There have been few arrivals in Norway compared to Finland, and the situation is different here.