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The Next Big Sanctions Play to Hurt Putin: a Travel Ban for Russians?

Russia Sanctions
Russian military drilling with artillery. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Kyiv Calls On West To Implement Russia Travel Ban – As the West runs out of new ideas for sanctions against Russia, Kyiv is now urging NATO countries to implement a sweeping travel ban on all Russians.

During an interview with the Washington Post, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy floated the idea which has received some support from European countries.

“The most important sanctions are to close the borders — because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land,” Zelenskyy told the news outlet. The Ukrainian leader added that the Russian people should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.”

While a blanket travel ban would punish millions of people who are not necessarily responsible for the war in Ukraine, that’s precisely the point of these sanctions. Not only are Western countries putting pressure on the Russian government, but sanctions and travel bans are designed to impact the lives of so many Russian people that the government experiences sufficient pressure from the  Russian people to end the conflict in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy was not shy about his intent to punish Russian citizens in the interview, however.

“They’ll say, ‘This [war] has nothing to do with us. The whole population can’t be held responsible, can it?’ It can. The population picked this government and they’re not fighting it, not arguing with it, not shouting at it,” Zelenskyy said.

Kremlin Slams Idea As “Off the Charts”

The Kremlin did not respond well to the suggestion and immediately urged European countries not to take the recommendation seriously.

“The irrationality of thinking in this case is off the charts,” chief Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday. “Any attempt to isolate Russians or Russia is a process that has no prospects.”

Russia has reason to be concerned about the idea, too. Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repeated assurances that his country could overcome the “reckless” sanctions levied against it by the West, the evidence points to a severely weakened economy struggling to remedy broken supply chains.

Neighboring Finland also announced a plan last week that would limit the number of tourist visas granted to Russians. The Finnish government also pushed for a decision to be made by the European Union on a more comprehensive and unified plan for restricting Russian travel, a move that would further isolate Russia from the West.

Writing on Twitter, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas also insisted that it was time to “end tourism from Russia” to Europe entirely.

“Stop issuing tourist visas to Russians. Visiting #Europe is a privilege, not a human right,” the Estonian leader wrote.

“Air travel from RU is shut down. It means while Schengen countries issue visas, neighbours to Russia carry the burden (FI, EE, LV – sole access points). Time to end tourism from Russia now.”

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Scottfs

    August 10, 2022 at 2:07 pm

    That is a poor idea. Russians need to experience freedom. Freedom they don’t have in their own land.

  2. John Cento

    August 11, 2022 at 1:33 am

    The author is a drooling idiot. I have first-hand knowledge that the current sanctions regime depressing Russian tourism abroad has made the Russian domestic tourism market boom. Millions if not billions of wealth that would have been drained from Russia and spent in Europe have been instead reinvested in the Russian economy. While it would hurt Russian prestige, such an EU ban, would as has every EU boon-doggle, hurt Europe and strengthen Russia. When the author lets his extreme ideology confuse his logic, it is a sad thing to see.

  3. John

    August 11, 2022 at 1:57 am

    This analysis is superficial. The Russian domestic tourism industry is booming from the current sanctions, keeping millions in wealth in the country instead of draining resources from it. Travel restrictions would only keep more money in Russia and hurt the EU tourism industry. It would hurt Russian prestige,but would help more than hurt Russia financially. The domestic tourism lobby would be cheering it as would be the thousands of shopkeepers in tourist towns. Further, the humanitarian cruelty against separated family members would cause great hate against the EU. Remember that Europe has been destroyed before from vengeance against wartime enemies. It is a very foolish idea.

  4. MortenHJ

    August 11, 2022 at 5:41 am

    It would be nice to not having russian tourists at ones’ hotel.
    I have experienced russian tourists in my holidays in Egypt, Croatia, Cyprus and Tenerife. They can really spoil your holidays.

    – Many of them are just not nice people…

  5. Fluffy Dog

    August 11, 2022 at 8:26 pm

    Banning visas has nothing to do with internal Russian travel boom. Let it boom, who cares? It also has nothing to do with nice of not-so-nice Russians.
    The primary purpose is to stem the flow of FSB agents moving to the West among those Russians who want to have nothing to do with Putin and decided to escape. You cannot imagine the load on Israeli security services during the “détente” of the late 70s. Over the course of last three years of the 70s some 50-80,000 people moved to Israel and the filtering placed such a load on the services, they barely coped.

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