Russia has denounced the European Union’s “ridiculous” move to suspend the 2007 visa facilitation deal with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.
“Another ridiculous decision in a series of ongoing absurdities,” the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday. He said it was “bad for Russians. It will take longer and be more difficult to obtain visas.”
Peskov said the new decision would “make the situation more difficult for Europeans as well.”
The remarks came after EU foreign ministers on Wednesday agreed to suspend the deal but failed to agree on the larger visa ban for the Russian population, which was previously requested by some of the member states.
The plan will make it harder and more expensive for Russians to get Schengen-area documents.
EU Foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the move “will significantly reduce the number of new visas issued by the EU member states.”
Borrell had previously opposed the plan by some member states, such as Finland, Poland, and certain Baltic countries, to unilaterally stop visa deliveries to all Russians. “I don’t think that to cut the relationship with the Russian civilian population will help and I don’t think that this idea will have the required unanimity.”
Back in February and immediately after the Russian operation began in Ukraine, the EU restricted visas for Kremlin-linked officials. But tourist visas were still permitted. The EU’s pressure on Russia is not merely limited to visa bans. The bloc has applied several financial and energy sanctions against Moscow, bringing up food and energy crises to the green continent.
Moscow accused the EU on Thursday of putting up obstacles to the Russian energy firm Gazprom’s operations, as Russia’s gas exports decline and the crucial Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline is closed for maintenance.
According to Peskov, only a few companies were able to service the hi-tech equipment produced by Siemens Energy for Nord Stream 1.
Russia launched the operation in Ukraine on February 24, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. At the time, President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of the operation was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
Source: Agencies (edited by Al-Manar English Website)