Estonia is set to close its border to more than 50,000 Russians with previously issued visas this week, a move that came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for Western nations to ban all Russian travelers.
The ban will come into effect on August 18 and will revoke EU short-stay visas, known as Schengen visas. According to Reuters, about 2,500 Russians cross the border into Estonia each day, more than half of them using Schengen visas.
Estonia is the first EU country to take such drastic action after Zelensky’s demand. Finland, which shares an over 800-mile border with Russia, announced Tuesday that it would also take action against Russian travelers by slashing Russian visas by 90%.
Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania plan to propose a joint EU policy on Russian visas at an EU foreign ministers meeting at the end of August. Western sanctions have banned Russian flights in most countries across Europe, which Russian travelers have circumvented by boarding flights in neighboring countries.
When Zelensky demanded that the West ban Russian travelers, he said that the “whole population” of Russia was responsible for President Vladimir Putin’s war and said they should be punished for it.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu echoed Zelensky when justifying the ban. “We have to admit that Russian society, by and large, also bears passive moral responsibility for these atrocities, which takes place on Ukrainian soil,” he said.