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Europe can’t decide if it wants to punish ordinary Russians for Putin’s war

Currently, 1,000 Russians can apply for Finnish visas each day, but as of September 1 that number will drop to 500. Jussi Tanner, director general for consular services at Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told CNN that a maximum of 20% of those slots will be allocated for tourist visas, meaning no more than 100 tourist visas will be available per day.

The move comes after Estonia, another European Union nation that borders Russia, banned even Russians who already had visas from entering the country. According to Reuters, that amounts to 50,000 people. 

The Czech Republic and Latvia have also been supportive of visa bans and have also taken measures to restrict Russians from traveling into the EU. 

The proposal was first floated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who wants to stop Russians from entering the bloc, where they can then travel freely for 90 days in the EU’s common travel zone, the Schengen area. 

Not everyone agrees. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says that while it is important to sanction those in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, Europeans need to “also understand that there are a lot of people fleeing from Russia because they disagree with the Russian regime.” 

A senior German diplomat told CNN that Scholz’s argument is not based in fact, “as anyone can apply for a humanitarian visa.” The diplomat believes that Scholz is mostly attempting to “balance his own party which is split between those who want dialogue with Russia and…

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