Russian FM opposes reciprocal EU visa restrictions

Lavrov says Russia does not have to close itself to Europe.

Russian FM opposes reciprocal EU visa restrictions

Moscow does not have to close itself to Europe in the wake of Schengen visa restrictions for Russians, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.

"We will not isolate ourselves, I believe that in response to these 'Schengen walls' we do not need to close, we do not need to reciprocate and collectively punish citizens of European countries," Lavrov told a meeting with students at the MGIMO University in Moscow.

"It's ridiculous, these people are pathetic. We should not follow this path, respond with stupidity to stupidity. Of course, no one has canceled reciprocity, it should be used purposefully against the organizers, organizers and performers of such anti-Russian sanctions," he added.

The European bloc on Wednesday reached a political deal on suspending the EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement, which was signed in 2007, but stopped short of implementing a full visa ban for Russians over Moscow's war on Ukraine.

The move would significantly reduce the number of new visas issued to Russians by EU member states.

The ban was originally proposed by Russia’s smaller Baltic neighbors Estonia, Latvia, and Finland but opposed by Germany and France.

Estonia, however, has stopped issuing Schengen visas to Russians.

Situation in Transnistria

Asked about the situation in Moldova's Transnistria, Lavrov said any attack on Russian peacekeepers in the breakaway region will be seen as an attack on Russia.

"Everyone should understand that any action that endangers the safety of our servicemen (in Transnistria) will be considered in accordance with international law as an attack on Russia, as it was in South Ossetia when our peacekeepers were attacked by (former Georgian President Mikhail) Saakashvili," he said.

Lavrov said the Russian peacekeepers guard the biggest ammunition depot in Europe, which is located in Transnistria.

Moldova, a former Soviet republic, borders Ukraine and is around 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the strategic port city of Odesa.

The nation has a relatively small military and neutrality was enshrined in its post-Soviet Constitution.

The Cobasna ammunition depot contains up to 20,000 tons of Soviet-era weapons, which passed their expiry date long ago.

In 2019, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu suggested to take out or destroy the weapons.