Call for paid service +44 (0)344-991-9222

EU won't ease visa barriers for Russians

Support migrant centric journalism today and donate

Russia failed to gain an easing of European Union visa restrictions for its citizens on 18 May, after the country would not agree to take back its illegal migrants from the EU.

Putin said Russia could not yet agree to the EU's demands on readmitting illegal migrants as an exchange for easing visa rules, saying it would be costly to implement and claiming such a policy could violate migrants rights.

The EU would not give in. EU officials said that Moscow must agree to take back all migrants who enter the European Union from Russian territory illegally if the EU is to ease visa barriers for Russians.

Overall, Putin said, Moscow would continue to press for full abolition of visa requirements, although he acknowledged Russia must first strengthen its borders with other former Soviet republics.

"Our ultimate aim is visa-free travel. Only then can you say that there are no dividing lines" in Europe, Putin said.