The political scientist points out that the decision should be taken by all Schengen zone states, and there is no consensus on this issue yet. On the other hand, Kęstutis Girnius, a political scientist at Vilnius University’s Institute of International Relations and Political Sciences (VU TSPMI), considers that he could use such a decision himself. Kremlin. According to him, the sanction would probably enable Russian President Vladimir Putin to further spread propaganda that the West seeks to isolate the whole of Russia.
M. Šešelgytė: this is more of a value issue that is practically difficult to implement
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky called on European Union countries to ban the issuance of visas to Russian citizens. In response, the Czech Republic indicated last week that a visa ban on Russians could complement the announced sanctions Moscow. In Ms. Šešelgytė’s opinion, although the issue is not in doubt, such an action would create conditions for a greater flow of propaganda.
“On the one hand, the effect may be that Russia is already a fortress state that portrays the entire outside world as attacking and mobilizes the population to defend itself.” Such an action can lead to really greater propaganda and its exploitation for internal purposes,” commented the political scientist.
“But on the other hand, there are also value issues. At a time when people are dying in Ukraine, Russians can freely travel around various European countries and enjoy life without hindrance,” she thought.
However, although the issue is valuable, M. Šešelgytė points out that the approval of all parties is necessary for the application of the sanction.
“Because if one country of the Schengen zone issues visas, it allows travelers to travel to other countries as well. Therefore, it would be more of a moral move by the states that want to ban it, rather than a practical one, because it is practically difficult to implement such a thing,” said the political scientist.
Just last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that he was against the ban, because he believed that the effectiveness of the sanctions would be weakened “if they were directed against everyone, including innocent people. And there may be more countries like Germany, notes M. Šešelgytė.
“Germany is not the most radical example. Hungary and Cyprus may also have a different opinion, so there is no consensus on this issue yet,” said M. Šešelgytė.
In addition, when calls appeared to apply sanctions only to those Russian citizens who clearly do not support the Kremlin’s aggression, M. Šešelgytė is also cautious.
“It’s a complicated idea that requires more resources than it brings benefits. And what will be the criteria according to which we will divide? This can lead to even more confusion. Additional verification measures would be needed, it seems to me that it would be more of a game,” the political scientist added.
K. Girnius: V. Putin could explain that the West is trying to isolate all Russians
Meanwhile, political scientist K. Girnius assesses the debates that have started somewhat more critically. According to him, the decision to apply collective punishment to the entire population of Russia would only allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to consolidate his regime even more. K. Girnius notes that this sanction would probably be treated in the Kremlin as a Western aspiration to destroy Russia.
“I think that such a measure is not expedient, because it would be a collective punishment and the Russians who do not support and do not support the war would suffer. It must be remembered that Russia is an authoritarian state. Citizens of an authoritarian state have fewer rights, they cannot elect the government, they are not spoken to and propaganda is pushed. Here is such an obvious comparison with America. When there was a war in Iraq, a significant part of the intelligentsia, the influential newspapers, took that propaganda at face value and supported the invasion. We can’t expect that from the Russians, who don’t get information anyway and face a 15-year fine if you speak out against the war. In my opinion, the decision not to issue visas would be an excessive step”, commented K. Grinius.
On the other hand, the political scientist points out that Russian oligarchs are already subject to sanctions.
“The oligarchs are already banned, and people travel for medical treatment, to visit families, and for various other reasons that are not malicious. This would be a new iron wall here, once the Soviets did not let their citizens into the West, and now the West would not let the Russians in. I think it would not be useful for us, but it would be useful for Putin, who will be able to explain that the EU seeks to isolate the Russians,” said the political scientist.
In addition, K. Grinius’ proposals to issue visas to Russian citizens who do not support the war are also critically assessed, because, according to him, it is almost impossible to identify these persons. Also, according to the political scientist, it is difficult to imagine that all EU countries could support the decision.
“The Baltic countries view war a little differently. I would be surprised if Germany, France, Spain or Italy would support it. And these countries make up the vast majority of EU citizens. And some Russian tourists do not go to the beaches to swim, but for cultural reasons. I don’t see what would be gained by this decision, and it would only help Putin. And those who do not support the war would feel discriminated against by the West. It would not be helpful and it remains to be asked how long it would last. If the war ended in a year, would they be able to travel after a year?”, asked the political scientist.
ELTA reminds that the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, called on the European Union countries to ban the issuance of visas to Russian citizens.
The Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU presidency, said the ban could complement sanctions against Moscow. The governments of Estonia and Finland have called on other European Union countries to ban tourist visas for Russians.
However, the representative of the European Commission (EC) emphasized on Thursday that according to the current laws, it is not even possible to completely ban tourist visas. According to her, each request must be considered separately.
After the Kremlin forces invaded Ukraine, Lithuania was one of the first EU countries to limit the issuance of new Schengen and national visas to Russian citizens.
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