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Germany Proposes EU Suspends Deal with Russia on Easing Visa Procedures

Germany has proposed that the European Union suspend an agreement with Russia that eases visa issuance, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at a news conference on Tuesday following a closed-door meeting of the nation’s cabinet outside Berlin.

“My proposal, and I believe that it’s well-founded, is to make it clear that we are suspending the visa facilitation agreement [with Russia],” Baerbok said, adding that the move would mean Russian citizens wouldn’t be able to get long-term Schengen visas from Germany. She said that EU governments in the future will perform more careful checks of why Russians are applying for a visa.

The minister said Germany is located in the middle of Europe not just in geographic terms, but also in terms of the discussion around a possible ban on issuing visas to Russians. Baerbock said some EU countries demand to completely stop issuing visas to Russians, while other states, on the contrary, believe that would be impractical. The proposed measure, she said, would be a “good bridge” for resolving internal disputes in the EU.

The German foreign minister said that it’s necessary to allow Schengen visas for students and persons who, according to her, are persecuted in Russia for political reasons.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said in an August 9 interview with the Washington Post that Western countries should ban all Russians from entering their territory, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba later on tweeted out a call on social media urging all EU and Group of Seven countries to stop issuing visas to Russians. This idea was supported by some European countries, including the Baltic states and the Czech Republic.

A diplomatic source in Brussels told TASS that EU top diplomats will look into proposals from the Baltic states and Finland on banning Schengen visas to Russians when they convene for an informal meeting in Prague on August 30-31. Later, this information was confirmed by the European Commission. The source also explained that since the Schengen visa guidelines does not provide for a complete ban on visas to nationals of certain countries, the backers of this proposal have two options: to begin revising the Schengen rules, which can turn into a lengthy and problematic procedure, or to reach an agreement between some EU countries on restricting the issuance of visas to certain categories of Russian citizens.

Meanwhile, Germany and the other member states of the European Union will not be sending their troops to Ukraine, Siemtje Moeller, the parliamentary state secretary of the Germany Defense Ministry, said on Tuesday.

Moeller, however, said the allied western countries would continue sending military assistance to Ukraine in light of the ongoing war.

“From our point of view, it is excluded,” Moeller told reporters in Prague upon arrival for an informal EU defense ministers summit when asked about the prospect of Germany and other EU countries sending their military to Ukraine.

The official revealed that the informal meeting will see the defense ministers discussing – among other things – sending a high-level training mission for the Ukrainian armed forces, the official added.

Source: Websites

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