Charles Michel favors opening EU to fleeing Russians

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The Lithuanian foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, said the country will not be granting asylum to Russians fleeing the country.

“Russians should stay and fight. Against Putin.,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday.

The number of border crossers from Russia into Finland has doubled in recent days compared to last week, Satu Sikanen, the regional mayor for south Karelia in Finland told BBC News on Saturday.

Yesterday, Finland’s president and the ministerial committee proposed significant restrictions on issuing visas to Russian citizens and entry to the country, said Sikanen. The number of issued visas has already been decreased, she added.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, has urged Europe to show an “openness to those who don’t want to be instrumentalised by the Kremlin”, according to Politico.

The remarks came following Michel’s address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday, and come ahead of a key meeting of EU ambassadors on Monday within the framework of the EU Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR), Politico reports.

In an interview with POLITICO on the sidelines of the U.N. meeting in New York, Michel said that the EU should show an “openness to those who don’t want to be instrumentalized by the Kremlin.”

Michel’s comments come ahead of a meeting of EU ambassadors on Monday organized within the framework of the EU Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) — a mechanism that allows for rapid and coordinated decision-making at EU political level at times of crisis.

The question of whether to allow Russians to seek refuge in Europe is a complex one. This month, the European Union agreed to suspend a visa facilitation agreement with Russia, after several countries objected to Russian citizens visiting and holidaying in Europe when the Putin government is waging war in Ukraine.

Some Baltic countries are concerned that opening the door to Russians could allow pro-Putin operatives to enter the EU. Finland closed its doors to Russian tourists on Friday after the number of people arriving at the Finland-Russia border soared in recent days.

However, the German government indicated that it is open to taking Russian dissenters who are facing serious oppression.

Hours after the Kremlin shocked Russia by announcing the first mobilisation of at least 300,000 troops since the second world war has led to a rush among men of military age to leave the country.

The line at the border between Russia and Georgia is approximately 10km long, reports the BBC, where people have been waiting more than 20 hours to cross.

Options to flee are limited, people fleeing previously told the Guardian. Earlier this week, four of the five EU countries bordering Russia announced they would no longer allow Russians to enter on tourist visas.

“I will be driving across the border tonight,” said a 29-year-old sergeant in the Russian reserves, Oleg, on Thursday. “I have no idea when I’ll step foot in Russia again,” he added, referring to the jail sentence Russian men face for avoiding the draft.

Photo – A picture taken during a visit to Lysychansk organised by the Russian military shows Russian serviceman walks near destroyed apartments building in Severodonetsk, Luhansk region, Ukraine.

Read more via POLITICO/BBC/ The Guardian

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