Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Friday that Kyiv intends to issue visas to Russians from July 1, four months after Moscow invaded his country.
“Ukraine is applying a visa regime for citizens of the Russian Federation,” Zelensky said on his Telegram account. He said the requirement would come into effect on “July 1, 2022”, following a government decision he expected “today”.
The move would end visa-free travel for Russians that began when Ukraine became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said the move was made because the Russian invasion began on February 24 and to bolster his country’s defense efforts.
“Due to the all-out war launched by the Russian Federation, we need to strengthen control over the entry of Russian citizens into our territory. Security is a top priority.”
The two neighbors share a border that stretches for nearly 2,300 kilometers (1,400 miles) and share deep family links.
But the number of Russians coming to Ukraine plummeted after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, leading to war with Kremlin-backed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
In 2013, 10.8 million Russians visited Ukraine, but a year later, the number dropped sharply to 2.5 million. And between 2015 and 2019, this number continued to fall to about 1.5 million people a year, Andrey Demchenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s border guards, told AFP.
He said: “In 2020 and 2021 when the Covid pandemic takes place, the number of Russian tourists should not exceed 500,000 people per year.
Ukraine, where Russian is widely spoken and has experienced two pro-democracy revolutions since 2004, has also become a popular destination in recent years for liberal Russians fleeing the regime. dictatorship of President Vladimir Putin.
Immigration officials told AFP at the end of January that nearly 175,000 Russians had residence permits in Ukraine.
But that number could be much higher because so far, Ukraine has never had a visa regime with Russia.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from the feed provided.)