With the events unfolding in Ukraine, there has been a rapid response in terms of travel restrictions in the EU region over the past five days, involving the closure of EU airspace, EU travel bans for specific people and a crackdown on second passport applications.
There has been a sharp and rapid closure in European airspace in the last 5 days:
- On Sunday February 27, Europe and Canada closed their airspace to Russian planes, as reported PA News. The decision led to a flight to New York from Moscow having to turn back after an “eight-hour flight to nowhere”, as reported The Independent. Although American airspace was not closed to flying at the time, the fact that it had to pass through Canada (after Finland, Sweden, Norway and Greenland) meant that the pilot n I had no choice but to turn back – there probably wouldn’t have been enough fuel to reach New York’s JFK airport if the plane had been diverted.
- On Monday, February 28, Russia announced the closure of its airspace to 36 countries, including those in the EU, as well as to others, as reported Reuters.
- During the State of the Union, President Biden announced the closure of US airspace to Russian airlines, as reported Bloomberg. President Biden said the ban on Russian flights aims to “further isolate Russia and put additional pressure on its economy”, as reported Forbes.
One of the impacts, reported by Reuters, was a tripling of flights passing through Kazakhstan’s airspace and a 25% decrease in traffic through Latvian airspace.
All Rail, an alliance of independent passenger rail companies across Europe, has issued a press release calling on the rail sector to take action as decisive as the airline industry and stop operating freight trains and passengers to and from Russia.
Second passport applications suspended
The EU, UK, Canada and the US have announced that they will review the purchase of second passports by Russian citizens. An EU statement said that “we are committed to taking action to limit the sale of citizenship – the so-called golden passports – which allow wealthy Russians linked to the Russian government to become citizens of our countries and access our financial systems”.
Portugal, for example, has announced that it is considering suspending its golden visa program for Russian citizens. Portugal’s Foreigners and Borders Service said a total of 277.8 million euros ($309 million) had been invested in the country by Russian citizens in exchange for golden visas since the program was launched – these passports allow holders and their families to travel freely throughout the Schengen area. area without the need for a visa. For comparison, Portugal also announced that golden visas granted to Ukrainians amounted to a total of 32.5 million euros ($36 million) invested in Portugal since 2012.
Greece followed suit on March 1, announcing the suspension of all applications from Russian citizens applying for a golden passport.
A travel ban for certain people
In a statement issued by the EU on Monday, February 28, new sanctions were applied, some of which restrict travel. A total of 680 people are now travel banned, who are prohibited from entering or transiting EU territory.