The decision was made by the European Council on Thursday, news outlets reported.
It pertains to travel documents issued in the Russian-occupied Crimea peninsula, in the so-called Democratic People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, and in Georgia’s Russian-controlled, breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the belsat.eu/pl website said.
Announcing the EU’s decision, Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan stated: “Russia’s continued war of aggression against Ukraine is a blatant disregard of the rules-based international order, which puts European peace and security at risk. Today’s decision by the Council is further proof that we stand firmly with Ukraine.”
He added: “We will never recognise the illegal annexation of its territory by Russia, and we reiterate Ukraine’s right to liberate and regain full control of all occupied territories.”
Meanwhile, the European Council said in a statement: “This decision is a response to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine and Russia’s practice of issuing Russian international passports to residents of the occupied regions. It also follows Russia’s unilateral decision to recognise the independence of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008.”
The European Council specified that Russian travel documents “issued in, or to persons resident in, Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine or breakaway territories in Georgia” will not be accepted as valid travel documents for obtaining a visa or crossing the borders of the Schengen area.
The EU noted that such travel documents “are already not recognised, or in the process of not being recognised, by EU member states.”
“This decision aims to set out a common approach, ensure the proper functioning of the external border and common visa policies and safeguard the security of EU member states,” officials said.
The EU stated that Russia, since illegally annexing the Crimea peninsula in March 2014, “has issued Russian international passports to residents of Crimea,” adding that this practice “was extended to the non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk in April 2019, followed by the occupied regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in July 2022.”
The European Council said that "the systematic issuance of Russian passports in those occupied regions constitutes a further infringement of international law and Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.”
The statement noted that the EU had “repeatedly condemned in the strongest possible terms Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and expressed full solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”
The bloc’s member states “have firmly rejected and unequivocally condemned the illegal annexation by Russia of Ukrainian regions and territories, as well as Russia’s recognition of the independence of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” the statement added.
The European Council noted that “a series of individual and economic sanctions have been introduced” in response to Moscow's annexation of Crimea and Russia’s war on Ukraine.
It added that the EU “has also fully suspended the visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Russia.”
Friday is day 289 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Source: belsat.eu, consilium.europa.eu