Ukraine’s Kuleba urges EU to ban Russian tourists

By Thomson Reuters Aug 31, 2022 | 12:39 AM

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on the European Union to ban Russian tourists, describing the measure as appropriate since a majority of Russians supported the country’s “genocidal war of aggression” against Kyiv.

“The time for half-measures is gone,” Kuleba told Reuters as EU foreign ministers were about to meet in Prague on Wednesday for a second day of talks. “Only a tough and consistent policy can produce results.” The ministers are expected to agree on suspending a visa facilitation agreement with Moscow, meaning that Russians will have to wait longer, and pay more, for visas, while the bloc is likely to stay split over an outright EU travel ban.

“A visa ban for Russian tourists and some other categories will be an appropriate response to Russia’s genocidal war ofaggression in the heart of Europe supported by an overwhelming majority of Russian citizens,” Kuleba said in a statementemailed to Reuters.He also proposed launching a special program for Russian soldiers who do not want to fight in Ukraine anymore.    “(The message): save yourself and leave. Lay down arms, surrender to Ukrainian forces, and get an opportunity to start anew life,” Kuleba said.

“I am confident that this offer is worth making, because even if one Russian soldier lays down arms and decides to leave,it means saved Ukrainian lives and closer peace,” Kuleba said.    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged Russian soldiers on Tuesday to flee for their lives after his forceslaunched an offensive to retake southern Ukraine, but Moscow said it had repulsed the attack and inflicted heavy losses onKyiv’s troops.

(Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)