Borrell opposes full visa ban for Russians

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The EU’s top diplomat commented on an idea promoted by some Eastern European nations

Josep Borrell, the EU’s most senior diplomat, has said he did not support banning all Russian citizens from visiting the bloc, an idea that some member states have supported.

Speaking during a political forum in Spain on Monday, he called the proposal “controversial” and said the EU should be more targeted in its sanctions against Russia.

“Forbidding entrance to all Russians would not be a good idea. We have to be more selective. Of course, we must not open the doors to the oligarchs,” the official said, pointing out that wealthy Russian individuals were free to buy real estate in the EU.

“But there are also many Russians who want to flee their country, because they don’t want to live there,” Borrell added. “Are we going to close the door to those Russians?”

The Ukrainian leadership has been vocally advocating punishing Russia by ceasing the issuance of most visas to Russian citizens. Ukraine’s President Vladimir Zelensky has gone further, suggesting that Russian nationals should be expelled from the EU regardless of their attitude toward the policies of their government. Those who fear returning to their home country could apply for asylum, he said.

READ MORE: EU weighs in on visa restrictions for Russians

Some nations, such as Finland and Estonia, have moved to restrict the issuance of visas to Russians, although other member states, notably Germany and Cyprus, have opposed this idea. The bloc said it was mulling what stance to take on visas for Russians.

Moscow has said such restrictions were evidence that anti-Russian xenophobia was guiding the polices of some EU nations.

Borrell was speaking at an event called ‘Quo Vadis Europa? The birth of a geopolitical Europe’ in the Spanish city of Santander. The annual event was broadcast by the European Commission’s Spanish office.

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