EU foreign ministers agree to suspend visa deal with Russia – top diplomat

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell speaks on the tensions between the neighboring Western Balkan nations in Brussels, Belgium, August 18, 2022. REUTERS/ Johanna Geron/File Photo

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PRAGUE, Aug 31 (Reuters) – European Union foreign ministers agreed on Wednesday to fully suspend a visa facilitation agreement with Russia, making it harder and more costly for Russian citizens to enter the EU, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borell said.

“We agreed on … full suspension of the European Union-Russia visa facilitation agreement,” he told a news conference at the end of a two-day meeting of foreign ministers in Prague.

“This will significantly reduce the number of new visas issued by the EU member states. It’s going to be more difficult, it’s going to take longer.”

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Diplomats said the EU ministers could not immediately agree on a blanket ban of travel visas for Russians as member states were split on the issue.

Borrell said there had been a substantial increase in border crossings from Russia into neighboring states since mid-July.

“This has become a security risk for these neighboring states,” he added. “In addition to that, we have seen many Russians traveling for leisure and shopping as if no war was raging in Ukraine.”

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Reporting by Sabine Siebold Editing by John Chalmers

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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