The European Commission presented proposals for EU member states to further tighten visa restrictions for Russian citizens on Friday.
It recommended that an EU tourist visa should not be issued to Russian citizens applying from outside of Russia, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson announced at a news conference.
She called Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory, “an escalation of the security threat towards European Union."
“In the guidelines we say that member states should not accept Schengen visa applications from citizens of the Russian Federation that are present in a third country,” Johansson said.
“When it comes to Russian citizens that just want to come to the EU because they don't want to stay in Russia anymore, this stricter approach has to be applied,” she added.
The EU is also asking for stricter security checks at its borders for Russians trying to enter with a valid Schengen visa.
“Just having a valid visa is not enough, is not sufficient to be let into the EU,” Johansson said.
It is up to the member states to decide on their visa policies. The proposal will now be submitted to the European Council for approval.
More on the proposals: Johansson recommended restrictions should not apply to certain exceptions: including applicants for humanitarian reasons, family reasons, independent journalists and dissidents.
She also emphasized this new guideline won’t impact Russians who want to apply for a long-term EU visa, such as asylum. It’s only targeting tourist visas.
Finland, one of the few EU countries that shares a border with Russia, announced on Thursday that it would close its borders to Russians with a tourist visa.
So far the EU has yet to see a wave of Russian asylum seekers, with around 20 to 30 asylum applications per day this last week, according to Johansson.
Johansson also vowed further actions from the EU following the “illegal annexation of the four Ukrainian regions” by Russia.