Starting September 1, Finland will only allow Russian citizens to schedule 500 visa application appointments per day, authorities in the Nordic nation said.
The move is designed to punish Moscow for its decision to continue to wage war in Ukraine. The Finnish government had already slashed the number of appointments per day for Russian nationals 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 only allow 100 to be used for tourist visas, according to Jussi Tanner, the director general for consular services at Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Finland has long been a popular travel destination for Russians. In 2013, prior to Russia invading and subsequently annexing Crimea from Ukraine, Russians accounted for 75% of 13 million crossings over Finland’s eastern border, according to Tanner.
The number of Russian visa applications rejected has risen tenfold since 2019 and was now at around 15%, Tanner said.
Around 425 visas are now expected to be issued per day.
Sanna Marin, the Finnish Prime Minister, said that, while she recognizes the issue is not "black and white" and there are many Russians who do not support the invasion, many people in Europe are frustrated when they see "Russians traveling like nothing has happened."
"Ordinary Russian people did not start the war, but at the same time, we have to realize that they are supporting the war," Marin said at a news conference in Oslo on Monday. "I think it’s not right that Russian citizens can travel, enter Europe, enter the Schengen area, be tourists, see the sights while Russia is killing people in Ukraine. It’s wrong.”
Finland’s decision follows European leaders on Monday exchanging arguments over a potential Schengen or European Union visa ban for Russian citizens, with the leaders of Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark agreeing to further discuss the matter.