Western countries should ban all Russians from entering their territory. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said this in an interview with The Washington Post. He said all sanctions already imposed on Russia are weak compared with closing borders to Russian citizens for one year and a full embargo on the purchase of Russian energy resources.
“The most important sanctions are to close the borders – because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land,” Zelensky told the publication, adding that the Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy”.
The Ukrainian president believes that it is possible to “hold the whole population” of Russia accountable by isolating them. This is the only way to influence President Putin, Zelensky insists.
“Whatever Russians are talking about, send them back to Russia. Then they will understand. Then they will say: we have nothing to do with this war. The whole nation can’t be responsible, can it? Yes, it can. The people picked this government and they are not fighting it, not arguing with it, not shouting at it,” Zelensky said in an interview with The Washington Post.
A number of EU countries are discussing the possibility of banning visas for Russian citizens. Estonia, Latvia and Finland have already come forward with such an initiative. The European Union suspended a simplified visa regime with Russia from February 26. Embassies and visa centers of several European countries have restricted or completely suspended issuance of short-term Schengen visas for Russians.
Meanwhile, the European Commission excluded a blanket ban on visas for Russians, as this contradicts EU norms. “There are always groups of people who need to be given visas. These are humanitarian cases, family members [of EU citizens], journalists and dissidents,” the commission said. Tens of thousands of people have fled Russia since the war began because they disagree with Vladimir Putin’s policies.
Brussels’ sanctions do not target ordinary Russians, but “first and foremost” the Russian authorities and elites in order to prevent any financing of the war in Ukraine, the European Commission stressed.
Russia’s armed invasion of Ukraine began on February 24 on orders from President Vladimir Putin. Because of the war, the USA and Western countries imposed harsh sanctions on Moscow, which have affected not only the country’s leadership and Russian business, but also ordinary citizens.