From July 1, Ukraine will introduce a visa regime for Russian citizens. Since there are no diplomatic relations between the countries, travel for Russians to Ukraine for an indefinite period may become virtually impossible
From July 1, Ukraine will introduce a visa regime for Russian citizens. This decision was announced on the afternoon of June 17 by President Vladimir Zelensky.
“We are definitively breaking ties with Russia. To counter the unprecedented threats to the national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state, the government of <…> just decided to terminate the agreement with the Russian Federation on a visa-free regime, — Head of the Ukrainian government Denys Shmyhal wrote later in the day on Telegram.
There is a request from society and the authorities for this decision, this is very important, Andriy Yermak, head of the office of the President of Ukraine, added. On February 11, before the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine, a corresponding petition appeared on the website of the Ukrainian president, which was supported by more than 26,000 Ukrainians. Zelensky gave an instruction to work out the issue of a visa regime for Russians on May 25.
The agreement between Ukraine and Russia on visa-free travel of citizens has been in force since 1997. As Taras Melnichuk, representative of the government of Ukraine in the Verkhovna Rada, specified on Friday, for a 6-month period during which the 1997 agreement will continue to operate until the imforce is lost, the possibility for Russian citizens to enter, leave, transit, stay and move through the territory of Ukraine has been canceled without visas on the basis of a foreign passport, a diplomatic or service passport, a sailor's passport (identity card); a flight certificate of an aircraft crew member, and Russian citizens living in the border regions must enter and leave Ukraine only through international and interstate checkpoints.
Moscow plans to mirror Ukraine and also introduce a visa regime for Ukrainians did not state. Vice Speaker of the State Duma, United Russia Pyotr Tolstoy told RBC that this already “does not make sense” because “we have a different travel style now.”
How to get a visa
On February 24, Ukraine severed diplomatic relations with Russia. On the same day, Kyiv announced the evacuation of all its diplomats and consular workers who remained in Russia. Diplomatic property was sealed. How the work on issuing visas will be organized, the Ukrainian representatives did not say. Since there are currently no Ukrainian consular workers in Russia, it is impossible to organize the issuance of visas in the country. If Kyiv requests permission to send its consuls, Moscow will most likely refuse, a Russian diplomatic source said in a conversation with RBC.
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“Visas are processed by the consular departments of embassies. In order to start issuing visas, you need to develop a procedure for issuing visa requirements. If there are no diplomatic relations with the country, there is the possibility of registration in the consular department of another country, — says the founder of the visa center “ExpertVis” Yuri Pevzner.
Russia has an example of interaction with a country without diplomatic relations and with a visa regime— this is Georgia. True, in the case of Georgia, restrictions were introduced by Moscow. The mandate to represent the interests of Russia in Georgia and Georgia in Russia has been exercised by Switzerland since 2009. The embassies of this country have so-called sections representing the interests of Russia and Georgia. The sections function in buildings that were occupied by embassies before the termination of relations, and are mainly engaged in consular work, that is, issuing visas and other documents necessary for citizens.
“In the event that there are no diplomatic relations, but there is a decision to issue a visa, then all this is decided by opening a section of the corresponding country at the embassy of a third country, which is trusted by both countries that are in unfriendly relations,— Andrey Baklanov, Deputy Chairman of the Association of Russian Diplomats, says.— For example, a section of Ukraine can be opened at the embassy of Turkey, or Switzerland, or some other third party that will agree to take it upon itself. In fact, the embassy of a third country will not need to allocate space for employees, they can be in the same building as before, only there will be a sign “Section for protecting the interests of the Ukrainian Republic at the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey”.
Baklanov recalls that the issuance of visas in the future will depend on political will and admits the possibility, for example, of issuing visas for family reunification or travel to sick relatives.
“It may be under the auspices of an emphatically humanitarian focus. That is, in principle, all this can be done if there are two parties who agree on such a formula for getting out of the current situation and there is a third party who will take on some additional difficulties associated with the practical implementation of such a solution. There were such precedents, you don’t have to invent anything, & mdash; says the expert.
At the same time, he adds, to open the “sections” no intergovernmental agreement is needed, “because the governments will not even interact and resolve among themselves for the sake of such an issue.” “This can be formalized as an agreement between each of the interested parties with a third party. Relatively speaking, if the Republic of Turkey gives its consent, then each of the parties will have to negotiate with it. In this way, it will be possible to avoid the difficulties associated with maintaining direct bilateral contacts,»,— says Baklanov.
Earlier, there was a visa-free regime between Russia and Ukraine. Russians could stay in Ukraine for up to 90 days within 180 days from the date of their first entry into the country. It was possible to enter Ukraine if you had a passport with a validity period longer than the end of the trip.