The EU’s Next Ban Could Be on Russian Tourists

The EU’s Next Ban Could Be on Russian Tourists
A Russian tourist holding a bottle of champagne walks past police officers securing the bridge leading to the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, Sept. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Michel Euler).

A debate is raging in Brussels and across Europe this week over whether all Russians should be banned from entering the European Union. Politicians are debating whether such a ban would unfairly hold the Russian people collectively responsible for the invasion of Ukraine, and conversely whether it is fair to let them into Europe while U.S. and European citizens effectively cannot safely travel to Russia.

The idea of banning Russian tourists was floated this week by a few EU leaders from Eastern Europe, including the prime ministers of Finland and Latvia, following a suggestion along these lines by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas joined them Tuesday, tweeting, “Stop issuing tourist visas to Russians. Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right.” Russians currently must be approved for a tourist visa before they travel to the EU; citizens of the U.S. and other Western countries are granted a visa waiver on arrival.

The calls have prompted a debate over whether it is fair to punish all Russians, even those who may oppose President Vladimir Putin, for the war. On one hand, opinion polls have found that 80 percent of Russians support the actions of the Russian military, and 58 percent specifically support the invasion of Ukraine. As recently as last month, polls by Russian media found that only 30 percent want the war to end immediately. So if these polls can be trusted, Putin’s war is supported by a large majority of Russians.

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