Volodymyr Zelensky announced the new visa regime, scheduled for July 1, “to counter unprecedented threats to national security.”
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Almost four months before the start of the Russian invasion, Volodymyr Zelensky announced this Friday, June 17 that Ukraine will introduce a visa regime for Russians from July 1. The Ukrainian government must adopt a formal decision to this effect today “to counter the unprecedented threats to the national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of our State”, specified the head of the Ukrainian state on Telegram.
This important decision will put an end to visa-free travel for Russians, in force since Ukraine's independence from the USSR in 1991. entry of Russian citizens into Ukraine. Security is the priority,” added Presidential Administration Chief Andriy Yermak. These two former Soviet Slavic republics, which have a common border of almost 2,300 kilometers, are also close by family ties between their citizens.
Fewer and fewer Russian travelers
The number of Russians traveling in Ukraine has fallen sharply since Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, followed by a war with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine backed by the Kremlin.
If in 2013, 10.8 million Russians visited the neighboring country, this figure collapsed to 2.5 million in 2014 before dropping to 1.5 million per year from 2015 to 2019, told the Agency France-Presse the spokesperson for the Ukrainian border guards, Andriï Demtchenko. In the years 2020 and 2021, against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of Russian travelers did not exceed 500,000 entries per year, according to the same source.
Ukraine, which has experienced two pro-democracy revolutions since 2004 and where Russian continues to be widely spoken, has also in recent years become a destination of exile for liberal Russians fleeing the regime of Vladimir Putin. At the end of January, nearly 175,000 Russians had a residence permit in Ukraine, the state migration service told Agence France-Presse. Many other citizens could be there illegally in addition, however, kyiv had never previously established a visa regime with Russia.