05 February 2023,   14:29
MEPs vote not to accept passports issued by Russia in illegally-occupied regions of Ukraine and Georgia

The European Parliament has endorsed a decision not to accept passports and other travel documents issued by Russia in illegally-occupied regions of Ukraine and Georgia.

Parliament approved the agreement with Council on the non-acceptance of travel documents issued by Russia in occupied Ukrainian regions and so-called breakaway territories of Georgia, for the purposes of issuing visas or crossing the EU’s external borders, with 531 votes in favour, 7 against and 34 abstentions.

According to the proposal, the Commission should consult EU member states and draw up a list of Russian travel documents, notably passports, which should not be accepted. However, those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine will still be able to enter the EU on humanitarian grounds.

After the vote, rapporteur Juan Fernando López Aguilar said: “The European Parliament is committed to doing its utmost to continue exerting pressure on Russia through legal and political means to make sure Putin pays a high price for this illegal war and for the international crimes committed against Ukraine and its people”.

Once the decision has also been officially adopted by the Council and published in the Official Journal of the EU, it will enter into force on the day after its publication.

Russia has been issuing passports to residents of Crimea since the illegal annexation of the peninsula in 2014, and is currently doing so in other non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine. The non-acceptance of these Russian passports would apply when someone requests a visa to enter the EU or when they cross the EU’s external borders.

According to the Commission, almost all member states have already stated that they do not accept Russian passports issued in occupied foreign regions. The proposal aims to produce legal certainty and a coordinated, consistent approach.