Ukraine’s Kuleba urges EU to ban Russian tourists

PRAGUE: The European Union should ban Russian tourists, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Wednesday (Aug 31), urging a step the bloc’s foreign ministers gathered in Prague are unlikely to take due to deep divisions on the matter.

Kuleba also proposed a program in which Russian soldiers who surrendered would be rewarded with “a new life”, though he did not say where.

Eastern and Nordic countries strongly back a tourism ban, while Germany and France have warned their peers it would be counter-productive, saying ordinary Russians should still be allowed access to the West.

The EU ministers are expected to agree in principle on suspending a visa facilitation agreement with Moscow – meaning Russians would have to wait longer, and pay more, for visas – but not on an outright EU travel ban.

“The time for half-measures is gone,” Kuleba told Reuters before meeting with the EU ministers, asking them to go further. “Only a tough and consistent policy can produce results.”

“A visa ban for Russian tourists and some other categories will be an appropriate response to Russia’s genocidal war of aggression in the heart of Europe supported by an overwhelming majority of Russian citizens,” Kuleba said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

In their joint memo, France and Germany said that, while security checks were needed, students, artists and others should still be allowed to travel to the EU.

“It is important to distinguish between warmongers and Russian citizens, artists, students … We must continue to have ties with them,” French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said on Tuesday.

But Lithuania’s Gabrielius Landsbergis said more should be done. “Lithuania’s position is that the number of (Russian) tourists arriving to the EU has to be … reduced if not completely cancelled,” he said.