Appeals of the President of Ukraine Zelensky and a number of European politicians ban Russians from entering Western states and deport to the Russian Federation all its citizens who left the country remain in the focus of attention of the German media. Most commentators are convinced that isolating the entire Russian society would be wrong and counterproductive.
FAZ: Denial of European visas will make Russians think
Full-scale Russian aggression in Ukraine is Putin’s war, and, of course, sanctions should first of all affect those who are guilty of this, writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. And, nevertheless, the publication continues, every citizen is responsible for his state: someone needs a visa for a certain kind of travel, and someone does not.
“The free world should not follow the example of Putin. Any disregard for everything Russian as such is prohibited. But it should be clear to everyone that Russia is waging a criminal war of conquest that deprives an entire nation of the right to exist. And Putin is not waging this war alone and not without support,” FAZ columnist Reinhard Müller points out in a publication“All Russians do not have the right to a beach holiday.”
Of course, for someone who travels in Western countries, “it is easier to get a complete picture of what is happening,” the German journalist continues. But it is necessary that people realize “what exactly the West defends and what many Russians also value.” “Therefore, stopping the distribution with a generous hand tourist visas for Russian citizens will by no means become an inhuman measure. Rather, this step will make you think about how fragile freedom is and in what danger it is,” states the author of the commentary in FAZ.
Der Tagesspiegel: Punishing the entire society is counterproductive
The deprivation of citizens of the Russian Federation of tourist European visas can be regarded as a kind of sanction that will force the Russians to think, the newspaper Der Tagesspiegel notes. This idea, according to the author of the comment “Collective punishments are counterproductive” Christoph von Marschall, could reflexively arise in President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and the governments of some Eastern European states – just look at how “the middle class of Russia enjoys going to the beaches and shopping, while people are dying in Ukraine.” From this we can conclude that “Vladimir Putin’s subjects do not experience the consequences of the war for themselves in everyday life, therefore mass protests (in Russia. – Ed.) are absent”.
“Of course, the shock can be useful: this is evidenced by the horror of Russian vacationers in the Crimea, who realized that the war with the explosion of the ammunition depot had reached their summer paradise, which they considered safe. The fear with which the Russians observe the debate that accompanies the demand to stop EU visas for Russian citizens, says that this discussion has achieved its psychological goal. It wakes up some people,” the author of the commentary in Der Tagesspiegel believes.
And yet, ban on entry into the EU for all Russians would be wrong, the German journalist emphasizes: “Sanctions must be targeted and smart. Experience shows that the impression that the entire society is punished is counterproductive and leads to strengthening the unity of society with the regime.” The best way, according to von Marshal, is to restrict the issuance of visas to the EU: entry permits should be received by Russian dissidents or people who go to funerals close relative.
Frankfurter Rundschau: Collective punishment is a step in the wrong direction
The demand of the President of Ukraine to deprive Russians of European visas is understandable, we read in the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper: “No one can blame Vladimir Zelensky and his compatriots for being angry at seeing Ukraine destroyed, and Russian taxpayers paying for this aggression admiring the Louvre or sunbathing on the beaches of the Riviera.”
At the same time, EU countries should seriously heed the “unanimous and urgent warning (of Russian. – Ed.) oppositionists fighting for humanism, human rights and peace in Russia. Isolation in the form of collective punishment would be for them – with their already modest opportunities – the road to North Korean conditions. And no one is interested in this,” Thomas Borchert, the author of the comment “A ban on entry for Russian tourists would be tantamount to collective punishment,” is sure.
The right decision, the journalist adds, was and remains “targeted and tough sanctions against members of the Putin regime, who must face the consequences in their daily life in Russia.” “Punishment based solely on ethnicity would, of course, be popular in many places. But it would be a step in the wrong direction – without any prospect of a positive effect,” summarizes Frankfurter Rundschau columnist.