The Ukrainian government is lobbying European Union nations as well as the United States to shut their borders to any and all Russian travelers for a period of at least one year.
"The most important sanctions are to close the borders — because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land," President Volodymyr Zelensky said in Monday comments to The Washington Post. Zelensky went so far as to say there should be a world-wide ban in place by the international community on Russians going anywhere.
This call to further isolate Russia and its citizens came the same day the Pentagon and Biden administration unveiled another massive Ukraine defense aid package, this time time ramping up the dollar amount to $1 billion in military equipment, for which Zelensky formally thanked Biden in a message.
Zelensky in the statements said Russian citizens should "live in their own world until they change their philosophy" - before being allowed to travel in the West. "They’ll understand then," he said.
He argued that barring all Russians from traveling would send a powerful deterrent message, while also urging Europe to pull the trigger on a total Russian energy ban. At the same time Zelensky called existing Western sanctions "weak".
Surprisingly, Zelensky's remarks were backed out of the gate by a couple of EU member nations:
The leaders of Estonia and Finland want fellow European countries to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens, saying they should not be able to take vacations in Europe while the Russian government carries out a war in Ukraine.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas wrote Tuesday on Twitter that “visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right” and that it is "time to end tourism from Russia now."
A day earlier, her counterpart in Finland, Sanna Marin, told Finnish broadcaster YLE that "it is not right that while Russia is waging an aggressive, brutal war of aggression in Europe, Russians can live a normal life, travel in Europe, be tourists."
The call for a blanket ban on an individual from entering the EU on the mere basis of their ethnicity or nationality is unprecedented - and ironically enough would have only half-a-year ago been condemned as racist or xenophobic.
The Kremlin on Tuesday blasted the proposal as irrational...
The Kremlin dismissed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's call for a Western travel ban on all Russians as irrational, saying that Europe would ultimately have to decide if it wanted to pay the bills for Zelenskiy's ‘whims’ https://t.co/7JZb6Q283F— Reuters (@Reuters) August 9, 2022
If the EU were to tell 145 million Russians they can no longer travel to Europe for any reason in a sweeping ban, it goes without saying that this would be unlikely to impact Putin's war-time decision making in any way. Instead, it would only serve to punish common people, who also have a wide range of views regarding the war in Ukraine.