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Norway Bans Entry to Russian Tourists

A Russia-Norway border crossing. Lise Aserud / NTB Scanpix via AP / TASS

Norway on Thursday announced that it would restrict entry to Russian tourists, shutting their last direct access to Europe's border-free Schengen area.

“Russian citizens whose purpose is tourism and other non-essential travel will be rejected upon entry across the external border,” the Norwegian government said in a statement, adding that the new restrictions will take effect on May 29.

Norway, a NATO member that shares a 198-kilometer border with Russia in the Arctic, stopped issuing most tourist visas to Russians in the spring of 2022 following Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

The government said Thursday that the entry ban for tourists would impact those who received a Schengen visa from Norway both before and after it stopped issuing the document to Russian citizens in spring 2022, as well as those who hold visas from other Schengen zone countries.

Exceptions will be made for work, study and those visiting close family in Norway.

Long-term visa holders and those with visas from other Schengen member countries had until the new ban been able to cross via the Storskog-Boris Gleb border crossing, the only one between the neighbors. 

“The decision to tighten the entry rules [is] in line with the Norwegian approach of standing by allies and partners in the reactions against Russia's illegal war of aggression against Ukraine,” Norway’s Minister of Justice and Public Security Emilie Enger Mehl was quoted as saying Thursday’s statement.

Neighboring Finland imposed similar entry restrictions for Russian citizens in September 2022 as thousands of people crossed the border to flee the Kremlin’s “partial” mobilization.

In August, Moscow added Norway to its list of “unfriendly” countries, thereby restricting the number of local staff its diplomatic mission in Russia can hire. The move came after tit-for-tat diplomat expulsions.

Although not an EU member state, Norway has adopted sanctions against Russia in tandem with those introduced by the bloc.

AFP contributed reporting.

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