From now on, foreign nationals who enjoy the benefits of visa-free regime with Ukraine will have to obtain a Russian visa to enter Crimea. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) explained it as follows: “Due to Crimea and Sevastopol’s incorporation into the Russian Federation, foreign nations wishing to visit Crimea have to obtain a Russian visa in a diplomatic missions or consular office of the Russian Federation,” the ministry’s website says.
However, the MFA of Ukraine said on April 1 that foreigners had to enter the territory of Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol “in accordance with the laws and international treaties of Ukraine. Foreigners from nations that Ukraine has visa regime with should apply for a visa to embassies or consular offices of Ukraine abroad,” the MFA’s statement reads. It also states that failure to comply with the laws of Ukraine by foreigners during their entry and stay in Crimea will entail “responsibility according to the laws of Ukraine.” It can also lead “to the imposition of international sanctions on them as individuals who support the temporary occupation of Ukrainian territory.”
The Day has learned at the Russian Embassy in Kyiv that Ukrainians may enter the Crimean peninsula without needing a visa, provided they have internal or travel passport. However, foreigners from countries having visa regime with Russia must obtain a permit. An embassy official said that foreigners needing it should apply to Russia’s “consular offices in Kharkiv, Odesa, Lviv, and Kyiv.”
According to the analyst at the University of Warsaw’s Institute of International Relations Andrzej SZEPTYCKI, tourists will be, especially in this very uncertain time, boycotting both Crimea and mainland Ukraine. “Russia has annexed Crimea and considers the peninsula to be its constituent part. Therefore, it tries to apply Russian law at all levels. This applies to switching to Moscow time, which occurred on March 30, as well as economic policy, which Dmitry Medvedev outlined in Crimea on March 31, and this also applies to visa policy,” Szeptycki said in his comment for The Day.
However, he, being a Pole, does not like the introduction by Russia of a visa regime in Crimea. “Firstly, the annexation of Crimea is an issue of itself. I do not like that one European country has committed an act of aggression against another, contrary to the principles of international law. Secondly, as a citizen of Poland, I could enter Crimea without a visa to visit Bakhchysarai or relax on the Black Sea coast just three months ago. I also do not like that it has changed, but this is a logical outcome of Russian policy,” the expert added.
On the question of how foreign nations will respond to this situation, Szeptycki said: “As the US and Europe do not recognize the annexation of the Crimea, they will not open their consulates there. Poland had a consulate in Sevastopol, but it closed a few days ago. That is, obtaining a visa is becoming problematic for residents of the peninsula. To do this, they need to go somewhere else. In addition, the Western nations’ consulates will not recognize Crimeans’ Russian passports.”