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Baltic Countries to Stop Russian Citizens from Entering

Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

As of midnight, Lithuanian border control stopped 11 Russian citizens from entering the country, the Lithuanian Interior Ministry reported. This comes after the prime ministers of four of the five Baltic nations bordering Russia — Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — agreed earlier this month to stop admitting Russian citizens, a move in support of Ukraine.

Going forward, Russians traveling for tourism, culture, sport or business purposes, even if they hold a valid visa, will be denied entry to the four nations. In a tweet, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said he reiterated his proposal to impose an EU tourist ban for Russian citizens.

In May, the European Union tightened travel restrictions on Russian officials and businesspeople and banned all flights from Russia, leaving only rail and road links. While not sharing a border with Russia, the Czech Republic was one of the first EU countries to stop issuing visas to Russian citizens, imposing the restriction the day after Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

However, the most recent ban exempts holders of EU residence cards, family members of EU citizens, those with humanitarian cases, serving diplomats, transportation employees and Russian dissidents or long-stay national visa holders.

Andrzej Romanczuk, a Polish citizen, told The Associated Press that regions on both sides of the borders would suffer economically because border traffic drives local trade.

Bordering countries cannot stop Russians from entering their countries via another third nation, such as Finland, which despite bordering Russia, decided to keep its borders open.

"There is a loophole, and the loophole is Finland," Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told Reuters, adding that as a result, the travel restrictions are not entirely effective but still better than nothing.

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press and Reuters.

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