Will the EU help Russians fleeing mobilization – DW – 09/22/2022

In connection with mobilization announced in the Russian Federation The European Union expects an influx of Russians who do not want to be sent to the front in Ukraine and for this reason are leaving the country. At the same time, the statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin was made just a few days after Brussels canceled the simplified visa regime for Russian citizens. What can Russian citizens fleeing mobilization expect against the backdrop of the new EU sanctions policy?

What does the EU guarantee?

For people who seek international protection in the form of asylum, EU law guarantees this right. This position is in line with the rules and values ​​of the European Union, the European Commission confirms, because even after the abolition of the simplified procedure for issuing Schengen visas to Russians, Brussels promised to make exceptions in humanitarian cases and for dissidents.

However, not everything is so simple, because the priority of the EU authorities is the security of the union and its member countries, and Russia is a state waging a war that destabilizes not only Europe, but the whole world. “That’s why we suspended visa facilitation for the Russians and adopted specific recommendations regarding them. And we are working together with Member States to develop a joint approach,” explains Anitta Hipper, spokeswoman for the European Commission for home affairs and migration.

On the border of Russia and Finland
On the border of Russia and FinlandPhoto: DW

The management of the EU’s external borders must be carried out in accordance with its law, which includes respect for human rights and laws on asylum procedures. But at the same time, the border code of the Schengen area allows for the refusal of entry for certain reasons, such as a threat to internal security and public order, even with a visa. When it comes to people without a Schengen visa entering the EU and asking for international protection, this will be analyzed at the borders, the European Commission says.

“We have to consider the risks”

“This is an unprecedented situation, we are looking at it from a security standpoint, so we also have to consider geopolitical concerns and the associated risks,” says Hipper. Given the current circumstances, EU member states will consider each case on a case-by-case basis and decide who has sufficient grounds to flee Russia and apply for asylum and who does not.

The European Union seeks to find a balance between its own interests and the provision of support to Russians who do not want to fight against Ukraine, points out the official representative of the European Union’s foreign service, Peter Stano. “We stand in solidarity with those citizens of Russia who have the courage to show their disagreement with what the regime is doing, especially in the context of this illegal war in Ukraine. We sympathize with Russian families who fear for their sons, brothers, fathers, who are sent to die in a senseless illegal war,” he stresses. “We are discussing how best to resolve this issue in order to show our solidarity, but at the same time take into account our needs and interests and ensure the security of the EU member states.”

Protests against mobilization, Moscow, September 21
Protests against mobilization, Moscow, September 21Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP

Brussels understands that in this way “the Russians vote with their feet against the Putin regime and its actions,” says Stano. However, far from all EU member states are ready to ensure their flight from the country. Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, as well as the Czech Republic and Finland do not intend to automatically accept Russians fleeing mobilization.

Military conscription is not enough to get asylum

For example, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said that humanitarian or other visas to Russians seeking to avoid mobilization would not be issued for security reasons. “We should not succumb to his (Putin’s) blackmail, but should support Ukraine as much as possible. Russia today is just as dangerous for Europe and world peace as Nazi Germany was in the last century,” Baltic News Service (BNS) quotes Rinkevics ).

“Conscription to the army is not enough” to get asylum in Lithuania, said its Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas. “Political asylum is granted to those who are persecuted for their beliefs” or for other similar reasons, he told the AP news agency.

Estonian Interior Minister Lauri Laanemec called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “the collective responsibility of Russian citizens” and said that the admission of those fleeing military service violates EU sanctions against Russia. “Putin’s latest move in some way strengthens the sanctions, because there is hope forgrowing discontent among the population, – BNS quotes him.

Conscripts in the Sverdlovsk region, June 24, 2022
Conscripts in the Sverdlovsk region, June 24, 2022Photo: Donat Sorokin/TASS/dpa/picture alliance

The Czech Republic will also not issue humanitarian visas to Russian citizens fleeing mobilization, Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said. “I understand that Russians are fleeing Putin’s increasingly desperate decisions. But those who flee to disobey the duties placed on them by their own government do not qualify for a humanitarian visa,” the minister told Reuters.

The Finnish government is considering cutting off transit from Russia, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said. “The government’s will is very clear: we believe that Russian tourism should be stopped, as well as transit through Finland,” Marin said, stressing that after Putin’s announcement of mobilization and the resulting influx of people wishing to enter the EU, the situation needs to be reassessed.

Are Russians welcome in Germany?

Against this background, Germany, on the contrary, will increased support for the Russians, announced by the government. “Anyone who courageously opposes the Putin regime and is thereby exposed to great danger can apply for asylum due to political persecution,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Deserts who face serious reprisals can usually receive international protection in Germany,” she said.

“Everyone who hates Putin’s path and loves liberal democracy is welcome in Germany,” Justice Minister Marco Buschmann tweeted with the hashtag “partial mobilization”.

On September 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the citizens of the country and announced a “partial” mobilization. He referred to the decision of the self-proclaimed “DPR” and “LPR”, as well as the occupation authorities of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions to hold “referendums” on joining the Russian Federation, and stated that Moscow would do everything to provide safe conditions for the “referendums”.

See also:

Mobilization at any cost?

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