Russia restricts border access for Ukrainians via Latvia

Russia has limited the entry of Ukrainian citizens into its territory from the European Union (EU) to just two border crossing points, one of which is the Vientuļi border post on the Latvian-Russian border, reported the LETA newswire October 11.

On Wednesday, Russia informed the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that it will limit the entry of Ukrainian passport holders into Russia from third countries to only two border crossing points. From October 16, all holders of Ukrainian passports over the age of 14 will be allowed to enter Russia from third countries only at two border crossing points: Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, and the smallest border control point on the Latvian-Russian border, at Vientuļi in Balvi region.

Until now, it was possible to enter Russia from Latvia using seven border control points and also from Estonia through seven border points, from Finland through more than ten land border crossing points, and one such border point in Norway.

The border crossing point at Vientuļi is smaller than others in Latvia, such as Terehova, Grebņeva, and Zilupe.

The decision by Russia means that instead of almost 30 border crossing points that were available until now on the EU's external border for entering Russia, only one, and the smallest, will remain.

Most likely, such a decision of Russia is a response to the move of several European countries, including Latvia, to prohibit vehicles with Russian and Belarusian license plates from entering their territories.

The decision by Russia has drawn criticism in Estonia, reports ERR News. Estonian Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets told ERR's Russian portal that Estonia will do everything in its power to help Ukrainians return home and assist Latvia with any problems migratory pressure might cause to avoid a humanitarian crisis on the Latvian border.

While it may seem strange that, with Russia waging war on Ukraine, Ukrainians would want to enter Russia at all, in some cases travelling via Russia and/or Belarus is a viable route to reach Ukraine itself, or is necessary to get children or relatives, as previously reported by LSM.

In accordance with a European Commission decision, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland have prohibited persons with vehicles registered in Russia from entering the European Union through their borders with Russia and Belarus. Therefore, as of September 12, persons with vehicles registered in the Russian Federation are prohibited from entering the EU also through the Latvian-Russian and Latvian-Belarusian border crossing points.

Cars with Russian license plates already in Finland will have to leave the country within six months - until March 16, 2024. Meanwhile, the Baltic states are still deciding what to do with the Russian cars already on their territory, with similar measures to Finland's likely.

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