The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, believes the European Union should welcome Russians seeking to flee the partial military mobilisation in their country.
As already reported, the current Commission guidelines of 9 September to support Member States in handling short-stay visa applications lodged by Russian citizens are restrictive and require strict assessments of security risks and enhanced scrutiny of Russians applying for entry to EU.
In principle non-essential travel is deprioritized and the EU is only open to those who need to be protected, like journalists, dissidents, human rights activists, and people travelling for family reasons. The category of Russians who want to avoid military service and to take refuge in the EU was not foreseen in the guidelines.
Speaking to Politico, Charles Michel said that the European Union should show “openness towards those who do not want to be exploited by the Kremlin.”
“I think the EU should welcome those who are in danger because of their political opinions. If people in Russia are in danger because of their political opinions, because they don’t follow the crazy decision of the Kremlin to wage this war in Ukraine, we must take it into account.”
EU ambassadors will discuss the options on Monday. Some Baltic countries fear that allowing fleeing Russians in, could also lead to pro-Russian operatives entering the Union.
On Friday, Finland decided to close its borders to Russian tourists after the number of Russians crossing the border had doubled in the past few days.