The Kremlin on Thursday denounced the decision by EU foreign ministers to suspend a 2007 visa facilitation deal with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, and warned of potential countermeasures.
“This is bad for Russians. It will take longer and be more difficult to obtain visas,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, saying this would “make the situation more difficult for Europeans as well.”
“Another ridiculous decision in a series of ongoing absurdities,” he said.
EU foreign ministers on Wednesday agreed to suspend the visa facilitation deal but stopped short of a wider visa ban as requested by some member states.
Foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the move “will significantly reduce the number of new visas issued by the EU member states”.
In February, the European Union restricted visas in certain categories for Russians linked to the Kremlin, including for officials, diplomatic passport holders and company bosses. But tourist visas were still permitted.
Ukraine, backed by some EU members, is demanding the West shut its borders to all Russians over Moscow’s sending of troops into the country earlier this year.
Some EU countries neighboring Russia have already moved to bar or limit visas to Russians, but no EU-wide ban is as yet in place.
Russian leisure travelers use Schengen visas normally valid across 26 EU and associated countries, including Switzerland and Norway.
The visas typically allow stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day rolling period.
Those 26 countries received around three million Schengen visa applications last year. Russians made up the biggest group, accounting for 536,000 of them.