Why Banning Russians from Schengen Is Unlawful
On Monday, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, called on Western countries to ban all Russian travelers. On the same day, the Prime Minister of Finland, Sanna Marin, asked for an EU-wide ban for Russian citizens from Schengen, targeting tourists with Russian passports more specifically. “It’s not right that at the same time as Russia is waging an aggressive, brutal war of aggression in Europe, Russians can live a normal life, travel in Europe, be tourists. It’s not right,” Marin told Yle. In the meantime, Estonia decided to refuse issuing visas or residence permits to Russian students, limiting them to Russian workers and the Latvian embassy in Russia has simply stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens for an indefinite period of time.
The aggression against Ukraine is ongoing. Unquestionably, the horrible crimes perpetrated by the Russian state should be punished. Does citizenship equate to the state, however? And should all Russian citizens be put in the same basket, the mere possession of a particular citizenship emerging as the trigger of responsibility? Certainly not. Russians are citizens of a totalitarian state, they are not Putin. Many of them are strongly against the Putin regime and are as powerless and outraged by the war as Minister Marin. It is not only ethically wrong to punish a heterogeneous group of more than a hundred million on the basis of citizenship – a lottery ticket which they have not chosen.
Citizenship-based punishment is also unlawful. President Zelensky need not be guided by EU law: his task is to win the war and to save his country, but Ms. Marin is obliged to consider the key principles and laws binding Finland. Whether she likes it or not, there is no legal way under current EU law to adopt a blanket citizenship-based ban against Russians acquiring Schengen visas. In short, the WWI ‘enemy aliens’ approach, which predates the advent of human rights, has no place in the 21st century. It is outdated, illegal and should be dropped. Even more: political attention paid to it by persons in leadership positions is deeply surprising, if not irresponsible.
The Schengen visa system: a foreign policy tool, with strict legal framing
Some EU actions related to the war in Ukraine were praised – and rightly so. One of the most important breakthroughs is the record-time activation of the temporary protection directive to help Ukrainian refugees. Sanctions against the Russian regime and its puppets were equally applauded. However, the approach of sanctioning, among those close to Putin, only Russian citizens and leaving the Schröders out has been criticized, just like the focus on the oligarchs, who are as powerless, it appears, as their poorer brethren.
Adopting sanctions exclusively based on citizenship is far from proper in the world cherishing human rights, where citizenship itself, constitutes the main factor of inequalities around the globe. Citizenship-based exclusions from Schengen also raise issues of lawfulness and legality. Pressured by several Member States, the EU Commission has rightly declared that it cannot decide to limit the issuance of Schengen visas to Russian citizens. Indeed, current EU law does not provide for such a ban.
The Schengen visa is peculiar in that it is valid for the whole Schengen area, as opposed to other visas delivered by Member States under national and EU law, such as long-stay visas for students. The Schengen areas comprises all the EU Members except Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland and Cyprus and includes several third countries (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein). Until 2021, Russian citizens constituted the main group benefiting from Schengen visas: 536 241 in 2021, the second group being Chinese citizens (27 458 in 2021).
Since the entry in force in June 2007 of the Agreement between the European Community and the Russian Federation on the facilitation of the issuance of visas to the citizens of the European Union and the Russian Federation and until recently, some groups of Russians citizens (journalists, diplomats, official delegations, business people, students, close relatives, etc.) benefited from some facilitation measures for the issuances of Schengen visas (documentary evidence, length of the procedure and visa fees). Some ‘super-privileged’ groups – diplomats – benefited from even more privileges (e.g. multiple-entry visas with the term of validity of up to five years). This agreement is part of a broad network of instruments used as bargaining tools with third countries. In the Russian case, it was directly tied to a readmission agreement concluded in parallel, which entered into force on the same day, allowing the EU to send more people to Putin’s Russia.
Third-country nationals who receive a Schengen visa can enter from any border crossing point in the Schengen area. This is precisely what the prime minister of Finland was complaining about: since the opening of the Imatra border crossing point between Finland and Russia in early July (both Finland and Russia have lifted the COVID restrictions at the border), Russians in possession of a Schengen visa tend to cross via this specific point. Unsurprisingly so, given the EU’s closure of the airspace with Russia in February: flying via Armenia, Serbia, Turkey or the UAE is quite expensive. Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (leaving the northern crossing with Norway out) are thus for many the easiest crossing point to reach other destinations in the EU.
Kaja Kallas, Estonia’s Prime Minister, sees it as a problem: “while Schengen countries issue visas, neighbours to Russia carry the burden”, she wrote on Twitter. Does this justify the adoption of an automatic ban championed by Latvia and Estonia? Absolutely not, as there is no provision in the current Schengen acquis which would allow for the adoption of a blanket ban on visas for the citizens of one country in particular. Exceptions to the Schengen visa rules regarding restrictions and bans are exhaustively set out in the legal texts:
- They can relate to the suspension of the Facilitation Agreement (and not the Schengen visa issuance itself), resulting in the suspension of (part of) the facilitations conditions. Two ways to suspend agreement privileges are available. Firstly, Article 15(6) of the Facilitation Agreement EU-Russia stipulates that each Party may suspend the Agreement in whole or in part for reasons of public order, protection of national security or protection of public health. This clause was activated by the Council just after the break-out of the war on February 25 and suspended the privileges enjoyed by diplomats, related groups and business people. As a result, all these categories are now under the non-privileged rules of the Schengen Visa Code. One wonders why the EU hadn’t already suspended these privileges in reaction to the annexation of Crimea. Secondly, Article 25a of the Visa Code empowers the Council to suspend (part of) these privileges or impose higher visa fees when the country is not cooperating sufficiently in the field of readmission, exacerbating potential “selectivity effects of the visa policy by discriminating between individual cases owing to the political performance of the country of nationality”. In any case, these mechanisms do not foresee bans solely based on nationality.
- The second option concerns individual travel bans, in particular via common foreign and security policy This mechanism has been used by the Council toward several people close to Putin. Annulment requests are currently pending before the General Court.
No blanket ban possible under the current Schengen Acquis
It is beyond any doubt that any blanket ban which implies an automatic refusal of a Schengen visa to any Russian citizen is unlawful. Not only is it in violation of the 2007 Facilitation Agreement, which has been only partly suspended by the Council (Russian journalists, students and some other categories still benefit from it), but more fundamentally it is in breach of the foundational principles of the entire Schengen visa regime. As opposed to Schengen borders which can be easily closed under some exceptional circumstances – exceptions which have been largely used (and abused according to the ECJ) by the Member States since 2015 – there is no possibility in the Schengen acquis to introduce a blanket ban towards the nationals of one country, however exceptional the circumstances.
The Visa Code is crystal clear: Member States should examine each application for a Schengen visa individually and, in case of refusal, the reasons – which are exhaustively listed in Article 32(1) of the Visa Code – should be clearly stated. In response, applicants have a right to appeal (Article 32(3)). As a consequence, it is prohibited to adopt a blanket ban, or automatically refuse any citizen of any country. The same rules apply for long-stay visas which fall under EU immigration law Directives. The ECJ has been abundantly clear that visa decisions should be individual, i.e. they should take into account the personal circumstances of the applicant. Moreover, Member States are under an unconditional obligation to provide for a meaningful appeal procedure against decisions refusing a visa. Even when a Member State wants to refuse a Schengen or a long-stay visa under an EU immigration Directive for reasons linked to a threat to public policy, internal security or public health, they should do so on an individual basis. While this could be a ground to refuse Schengen visas to Putin’s officials, to announce ‘we do not issue visas to Russians’ is a violation of EU law.
There is obviously a risk that instead of a blanket ban, some Member States could abuse their wide discretion and systematically refuse Schengen visas for Russian citizens on phony public policy or internal security grounds among others, as a way of irrational collective retribution, unknown to EU law. Such systematic practice would be much more difficult to challenge in practice, while any state that does not even pretend to act on the individual basis, like Estonia unlawfully discriminating against Russian students, is committing a violation of EU law, which is possible to capture and challenge due to its blunt nature.
The EU cannot overlook fundamental principles and rights
The question that follows is whether it would be possible to amend the Schengen acquis to provide for blanket citizenship-based exclusions. The answer is less straightforward. The EU is competent to adopt measures concerning the common policy on visas and short-stay residence permits, in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure (Article 77(2)(a) TFEU). The Schengen acquis is fully part of EU law and can be modified on that basis. In fact, the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement has been modified several times already and additional regulations developing the Schengen acquis have been adopted and regularly amended, among them the Visa Code.
Automaticity is the anti-thesis of the whole Schengen visa system. Political will and the possibility to amend aside, the adoption of a blanket citizenship-based ban would contradict the very ratio legis of the Schengen visa system: the individualisation of the treatment of a visa application. It would imply a complete change of the rationale underpinning the issuance of Schengen visas, which is based on individual assessment of whether the applicants fulfil the conditions and constitute a risk of illegal immigration or a risk to the security of the Member States (Article 21(1) of the Visa Code). The Schengen Convention, the Common Visa Code, the Handbook for the processing of visa applications and the modification of issued visas, as well as the Handbook for the administrative management of visa processing provide for a strictly individual basis of assessment. Even a previous visa refusal cannot lead to an automatic refusal of a new application (Article 21(9) Visa Code). It also transpires from a settled case-law of the ECJ that the decision should be individual and that an effective remedy should be provided to the applicant (ECJ, R.N.N.S. and K.A., C-225/19 and C-226/19, para. 43 and the case-law cited). Although the principle of good administration (Article 41 of the EU Charter of fundamental rights, CFR ) applies only to EU institutions and bodies, it also sets the tone as to the importance of having someone’s case handled individually.
The organization of the Schengen system aside, the question of respect of fundamental rights is crucial in this case. In her tweet, Kaja Kallas wrote “Stop issuing tourist visas to Russians,” “Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right”. If she is right that there is no fundamental right to receive a Schengen visa, it does not mean that fundamental rights do not apply to more than a hundred million people she happens to be tweeting against, when examining and assessing a visa application. An automatic refusal toward any Russian citizens would obviously be in contradiction with the fundamental principle of equality before the law (Article 20 CFR). It would also raise important questions of discrimination. Although EU law does not protect third country nationals against discrimination on grounds of nationality, even under the Charter (e.g. see ECJ, C‑22/08 and C‑23/08, Vatsouras and Koupatantze and ECJ, X. v. Belgian State, C-930/19), the European Court on Human Rights, on the contrary, considers that a difference of treatment on grounds of nationality only constitutes a suspect criterion which calls for stricter scrutiny based on very weighty reasons.
What’s more, Article 21(1) CFR prohibits discrimination on the ground of ethnic origin. Although the Court adopts a restrictive understanding of discrimination on grounds of ethnicity, it is not difficult to identify persons of a given ethnic origin who are at a disadvantage: Russian citizens are mainly ethnic Russians.
More fundamentally, among Russian citizens who ask for a Schengen visa, there are not only tourists who were vehemently criticized by the Finnish and Estonian Prime Ministers, but also people who leave Russia for other reasons: humanitarian grounds, family, work, medical appointments, studies, and so on. Not examining these applications on an individual basis would be an attack on an array of fundamental rights, including the right to private and family life and the prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment. It would also sideline Russian citizens who live in a third country and apply for Schengen visas (between 150.000 and 300.000 have left Russia since the start of the war and millions more did so earlier).
In any case, the reason for applying for a visa and the place where Russian citizens live notwithstanding, the war between Russian and Ukraine is not a compelling justification to treat Russian citizens as pariahs unworthy of human rights for no rational reason, given that Russia, like the majority of countries in the world, is not a democracy and that citizenship cannot be chosen or easily renounced. Vile retributive logic is an unsuitable ground for a complete overhaul of the Schengen visa regime, established to diminish, rather than to boost violations of fundamental rights.
Many thanks to Chloé Brière and Dimitry Kochenov for their insightful comments on a previous version of the text. The usual disclaimers apply.
„Schengen area, comprising all the EU Members, except Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Cyprus“ – Ireland does not fully participate in Schengen either, in particular not in the visa part.
You are absolutely right. Thank you for flagging this. It has been corrected.
And a special tax on Russians obtaining a visum? https://twitter.com/McFaul/status/1557197238669033473
So in order to protect the rule of law, all Polish citizens should be punished for their government’s actions by blocking the recovery fund and other EU funds, but not all Russians…? Most Russians are entirely passive. They say: „it’s not us, it’s the government“. They must finally wake up and understand it’s THEIR government, and in the world based on division into sovereign States, they co-share moral responsibility for its actions.
Frankly this article appears to be amateurish and actually lacks in a number of facts. First of all, it is questionable to mix ethical and legal discussions. You are attempting to bolster your erroneous legal discussion of the topic with statements about ethics and in fact you are just showing an utter lack of understanding certain principles about nations, how they are built, governed and what a role of a people is, especially in war. Or in short: Your analysis is completely wrong, mostly because it is based on obviously wrong conditions.
1) “Russians are citizens of a totalitarian state, they are not Putin.“ You wrongly try to suggest that this war and the respective war crimes are done by Putin, which is wrong. This war is fought buy 100.000 Russian soldiers and supported, e.g. concerning logistics, advertisement, etc. at the home front. This is not “Putin’s war” as you try to suggest. There is a strong support in the Russian population.
2) A war is a conflict, especially with atrocities as done in Ukrania, which cannot have “neutrals” within the involved parties. If you are not directly opposing the war in Russia then you are supporting it, because you enable Russia to continue waging this war. Yes, opposing the war has certain threats, but this is not an excuse to remain inactive. There are things, which can be done with relatively low threats, e.g. Marina Ovsyannikova was punished, but actually quite mildly. The threat to the regime would be exponential if more people would oppose it. Those who chose not to, chose to support the war by action, if not by conviction. There is a reason why staying “neutral” in presence of certain crimes is a crime in itself in state under the rule of law.
3) You claim there is no right to punish a population for crimes of the state. While morally you could of course argue that there is such a right, this statement already contains a claim, which is simply wrong. Denying entry into a country, unless it is your own, is not a punishment. My neighbour does not have the right to enter my home. It is mine and thus I have to right to determine whom I’d like to visit me and whom not. There is neither a moral or legal obligation to let anyone or everyone into my home. Russians have no right to enter EU nations, thus limiting their access is not a form of punishment, it is just not granting them a privilege. Punishment always means limiting rights. There is no right that grants them access to EU. In fact, there might be even a moral obligation to not grant that privilege, e.g. if we would support a war effort or endanger the safety of other people – for instance Ukranian refugees or citizens.
4) In times, when Medwedev threatens with the sabotage of EU nuclear power plants, allowing Russians access to EU nations is actually a security risk, which not only is allowed to be limited, but is even mandatory. If it is correct to limit freedom of movement of citizens during times of a pandemic, there is neither a legal nor moral obligation to allow freedom of movement in times of war to citizens of the opposing nation. You state yourself that the Shengen agreement foresees limitations of visa issuing based on public security and public order. This is definitely the case, if Russia threatenes with sabotage acts within EU.
5) Russia has shown that it is ignoring international law, e.g. UN regulations about handling conflict, the Budapest memorandum and the INF-Treaty. It cannot demand legally that we uphold an agreement, which is to their benefit, but ignore others, which limit their ability to wage war or conquer other nations.
6) You claim, not granting a visum to Russians would mean a violation against Article 20 CFR. No it would not. Why? There is no law that demands everyone, disregarding nationality, has to be granted a visum. First of all an agreement between states is not individual law, it is a contract. An agreement whose validity can be questioned on the previously stated grounds. Also, the security regard has to be taken into account. This is also not a violation of Article 21 because there is not discrimination. Discrimination affects rights. There is not right to enter EU for foreign citizens. So, there cannot be a discrimination when not granting the privilege of entering. Also, the denial of entry is not based on ethnic origin, but due to political and security relations. We are not on cordial terms with Russia, in fact were are as opposing as we have ever been.
Your text is extremely biased and not fact based. You based your interpretation of the law on conditions, which are simply wrong and thus your analysis crumbles together. Not granting a visum is not punishment, as no right exist to enter EU nations. There is no human right to receive a visum. It is as simple as that. Your whole argument is baseless. Thus, your whole argument that you cannot punish a whole people for activities of its nation is not valid, because no punishment is happening. Not granting a privilege is not the same as exerting a punishment.
I don’t agree with you at all on moral and legal grounds, but one of your takes really hurt me.
„Marina Ovsyannikova was punished, but actually quite mildly“ – wow! I didn’t know that years in a prison is a mild punishment (she is detained now and accused of spreading „fakes“ about Russian army, google it). One member of Moscow City Council was sentenced for 7 years in prison for criticising the war! I think you will never understand what does it mean to stand against the dictatorship., this is so weird that Europeans teach us how to protest and how „mild“ are punishments for what are we doing.
Yes, it is a punishment to ban citizens when you target only a specific ethnic group of citizens. The right to equal treatment is violated. If you give visas to a series of countries according to Shengen law, and then you decide to deny it to one of them… that is discrimination.
It is only one side of the story. First of all the messure is only a ban on tourist visa and not on humanitarian visa is asylm. Toerist visa can be refused on the ground of national security. As between the Russian tourist are many „Russia skeepers“ who are working directly or indirectly for the Russian secret services, by the application for a tourist visa the memberstates can ask the applicant to prove this. This is already a very high burden. Secondly the decision on the application can be prolonged very long time. So nobody in the coming months no one from Russia can enter.
To even board a flight to EU one needs a valid visa, which completely disproves your point about keeping the humanitatruan visas. You don’t have to take my word for it, I am quoting the Russian opposition leaders here.
The second point reeks of xenophobia and reminds me of the Cold War paranoia, with the witch-hunt on whoever was labelled as „communist“. No, actually it is worse than that, as you are effectively judging people by their birthplace and ethnicity. If every Russian is a „KGB agent“, than every British national is a „James Bond“ MI5 agent, every U.S. citizen is a secret CIA operative and so on… Pretty stupid, isn’t it?
Dear Sarah, thank you for a such detailed and well-balanced explanation!
„Russians can live a normal life, travel in Europe, be tourists. It’s not right“. OK. What are we supposed to do then? Have you ever lived in a country led by a dictator? Have you ever tried to come out to the street in such a country? Would you do that if it happens now? Everyone is so brave when they find themselves in safety. So, you are inviting me (yes, me, because I am one of those Russians who dare to continue living instead of being erased) to spend the rest of my life in jail for saying openly bad things against Poutin, to leave my family, my kids without a mother. OK. Then what? Will you or your dear European authorities come to help me or my family? No. You will not. The only thing that you can do is just barking at us and offering us to quit our lives. Would you do the same thing if one day the government of your country attacks someone else? Would you leave your kids, your safe life and go to die in prison for other people? Would you sacrifice your life? European leaders demonstrate fascism towards Russians. There is no other word for this.
I cannot agree with you more. I am also one of those Russians whose only fault is that they dare to exist when somewhere in the world a war is waging, one of many. In the first months of the invasion I was highly sympathetic to the Ukraine, their people and the government. But slowly and gradually, having seen the overwhelming amount of anger, hatred, blatant discrimination of the Russian citizens by so the „enlightened and civilized“ Western world, I started to think the situation is not as straightforward as it seems.
While I still cannot BY ANY MEANS justify casualties among civilians, I think that Zelenskiy and the US government bear a solid portion of responsibility about what is going on. It is revolting to hear his, Kuleba’s and other officials‘ endless calling to punish Russian citizens.
What are they trying to achieve by that? In fact, with every ban of Russians, with every impotent political decisions in the European countries, I involuntarily starting to think maybe Putin was right in some sense. Never thought I would say it!
Ah yes, an old song.
Punish Russians, bring a burden of „collective responsibility“ to all of them. They chose Putin (no, Yeltsin did). They dare to be beaten by police (who acquired equipment from Europe). They dare to pay taxes for Putin (that is a droplet against an ocean of gas and oil fees from EU).
ZZ years EU and the USA supported Putin and closed eyes for destruction of some primordial democratic institutions. They ignored assassinations and fabricated prosecutions for activists, journalists, opposite politicians and so on. The major fault lays on western authorities. They created Putin’s fascism. They are responsible for death of Ukrainians.
And after 24th of February a funny but sad thing happened. Like a person who farted in a bus and started to complain loudly, Western politicians make a shit during these decades. And now they are saying that these crap was made by regular Russian people. How pity and cynical.
Close a borders. Great idea. Help Putin to conscript escaping men. Let them to fight with Ukrainians. Look like a hatred not only against Russians but as well as against Ukrainians.
It is a final solution of Eastern Slavs. Show must go on.
Please, explain me – it is a genuine question – how such framing of the Schengen agreement and Visa regimes in general regards the state of war? Because I have got strange sensation that going along with such broad interpretation the EU could not ban citizens of an enemy country at all even in case of direct, open military conflict.
Do I miss something?
Thank you for this information. It really makes me feel more at ease that, at the very least, me and my fiance will be able to have a way to get to the US embassy in Warsaw for our visa interview. The only way to get there is through a tourist visa. We have been nervous the past few days and this gives us confidence that there will be some nations that can give us a tourist visa still regardless of how many EU nations go along with this blatantly stupid policy. It does nothing in my opinion and people have a very backwards view on this issue. Thanks for your insight and we hope this line of thinking here is dominant and doesn’t allow these looney leaders in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, etc to have their way with the whole continent.
Firstly, No EU country is considering a blanket ban for all Russian citizens. Estonia has adopted a very strict approach. The Estonian government is now pushing for all EU member states to adopt the same rules. The rule has the exceptions:
1) Russian embassy employees and their family members working in Estonia;
2) Employees directly involved in the transportation of goods and passengers;
3) Those who have the right to freedom of movement under EU law;
4) People visiting close relatives;
5) People entering for humanitarian reasons.
Secondly, (somewhat pedantic) Russia is best described as an authoritarian, not a totalitarian state. There are many aspects of civil life that the Russian authoritarian government does not interfere with or take interest in. Totalitarianism does not allow that kind of room for civil life. The opinion of Russian citizens (especially those who are wealthy enough to travel) is not unimportant to the Russian government and its stability.
Oh, really? Then pls take a few moments and check out this regulation of the Estonian government
Russian citizens need to be in possession of a valid visa to enter the Schengen Area. N.B: The possession of a Schengen visa does not guarantee the right to enter the Schengen area as the fulfilment of entry conditions and purpose of stay is checked during border control.
If you disagree with visa ban for Russian citizens, then what do you suggest to EU leaders? Because Russians are the ones who are responsible for their army’s actions in Ukraine. Doing nothing is not an option. If not visa ban, then what else can be done to exert pressure on Russians?
Also raging war and bullying countries with nuclear warheads is unlawful. I think we are in a time where we finally should learn that a Visa is a concession a country makes to a visitor and not an implicit right and that under extraordinary circumstances whole Europe should be allowed to shutdown the border even with a whole group of population. European soft rules brought us so far by allowing wealthy and dubious individuals and also innocent people to flock to Europe as we are indeed a supermarket that would grant them the goods of a proper and better life. No! If you continue to rescue those who don’t want to deal with their problems back home you will never have progress there in first place. It may sound hard racist or fascist or simply to egoistic, but that’s the truth. Every single citizen on this earth is part of a comunity a country a culture and it’s values. When this culture and this values cause major harm and you do not standup against it you are an accomplice. We need to step back from this culture to give everyone rights in our system if they do not contribute to our values and do not respect our culture.
I have to disagree. Visa arrangement is not an arrangement between people, it is an arrangement between governments. In this text you literally claim that even if the country had declared war and invaded your country, you should still treat the citizens as tourists and arrange services for them, because people are not responsible of their government. You would then bring in 200 000 tourists from the country you are at war with and they would go to the gun shop and demand being treated as customers without discrimination.
There is an end for everything. For tourism the end is when women and children are being murdered bacause citizens carried no responsibility.
I cannot thank you enough for this detailed and well-argumented overview of the problem!
If your EU country was at war with another country. Is it then legitimate to ban citizens of that country at war with you? They could be potential soldiers.
I essentially disagree with this article from the position that EU citizens,at this point, are more secure without the influence of the Kremlin and the FSB in continental Europe. Now it is much harder for them to come and go as they please poisoning and engaging in murder against those who are opposed to Russias ambitions. If Russians wants the freedom to come and go as they please it is up to them to change the policies of their country., it would be difficult to argue against this since the Ukrainians essentially did exactly that when they ousted the Russian puppet president Yanokovych in 2014. There is no way to gauge who is complicit or supportive of Putin’s attack on a sovereign nation, therefore it is necessary to limit who can come and go into European, Canadian, Australian and US territories. I applaud these efforts and hope the aforementioned nations will continue to limit Russian citizens ability to travel freely until this matter is settled.