Adding to growing tensions between Ukraine and Russia, and the broad Ukrainian hostility toward all things Russian, President Petro Poroshenko announced on Friday that he is banning all Russian men between the ages of 16 and 60 from the country.
Officials are trying to tie this to last weekend’s maritime incident with Russia, and Poroshenko is claiming it is to prevent Russian soldiers from sneaking into the country to “destabilize” Ukraine before a war.
In reality, it feels like a continuation of Poroshenko’s anti-Russia policies which included harsh restrictions on the use of the Russian language, the sort of policies which fueled secessionist fervor in the mostly ethnic-Russian east.
In the near term, the impact is mostly economic and cultural. Russian soloist Andrei Merkuriev, from the Bolshoi, reported that he was forbidden from attending a ballet in Odessa, a show which he was staging in the first place.
Beyond this, Poroshenko announced new crackdowns on the Russian Orthodox church, ordering raids against important religious sites in the country. This comes amid his government’s push to emphasize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox church.