From September 1, Finland will only allow Russian citizens to schedule 500 visa application appointments per day, authorities in the Scandinavian country said.
The move is intended to punish Moscow for its decision to continue waging war in Ukraine. The Finnish government had already reduced the number of daily appointments for Russian citizens to 1,000. But with no end to the fighting in sight, Helsinki decided to act again.
Of the 500 appointments per day, Finnish authorities will allow only 100 to be used for tourist visas, according to Jussi Tanner, director general of consular services at the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Finland has always been a popular travel destination for Russians. In 2013, before Russia’s invasion and subsequent annexation of Crimea, Russians accounted for 75% of the 13 million crossings across Finland’s eastern border, according to Tanner.
Tanner said the number of rejected Russian visa applications has increased tenfold since 2019 and is now around 15%.
It is now expected that around 425 visas will be issued daily.
Sanna Marin, the Finnish prime minister, said that while she realizes that the issue is not “black and white” and that there are many Russians who do not support the invasion, many people in Europe are frustrated when they see that “Russians are traveling as if they had done nothing. It happened.” .
“The ordinary Russian people did not start the war, but at the same time we have to realize that they support the war,” Marine said at a news conference in Oslo on Monday. “I think it’s not right for Russian citizens to be able to travel, enter Europe, enter the Schengen area, be tourists, and see sights while Russia is killing people in Ukraine. It’s wrong.”
Finland’s decision comes on the heels of European leaders on Monday arguing over a possible Schengen or EU visa ban for Russian citizens, with the leaders of Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark agreeing to further discuss the matter.
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