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Ukraine bans Russians from entering on internal documents

Beginning March 1, Russian citizens will need an international passport to travel to Ukraine, ending a long era in which they’ve been free to enter with nothing but their internal documents.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk signed a decree today canceling several provisions in the agreement that establishes visa-free travel between Russia and Ukraine. The transition to a new set of rules, Yatsenyuk declared, will allow Ukraine to improve border control significantly and protect its national security better.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister also pointed out that Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated repeatedly in the past that “international passports should be used for travel.” “We’ve heard his call,” Yatsenyuk says, “and now Russian citizens need a passport to come [to Ukraine].”

Arseniy Yatsenyuk explained the changes in the rules for Russian citizens entering Ukraine as necessary for strengthening control of the Ukrainian-Russian border, and needed ‘to introduce European border-crossing rules that also affect Russian citizens.’ [In Ukrainian.]

Ukrainskaya Pravda

Since January 1, 2015, citizens of most countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States have needed international passports to travel to Russia. Moscow granted a late exception to citizens of Ukraine, however, preserving their freedom to come to Russia with only their internal documents. “Given the complexity of the situation in Ukraine, we’ve postponed the question of requiring Ukrainian citizens to use international passports for travel to Russia. As before, they can enter Russia with [only] their internal documents, but they’ll need to get special permission to work here,” Konstantin Romodanovsky, head of Russia’s Federal Migration Service, announced.

In January, President Putin said Ukrainian citizens of draftable age should be allowed to visit Russia for longer periods of time. Many Ukrainians, Putin explained, are avoiding conscription and fleeing to Russia, in order to “sit things out.” A few days after Putin’s remarks, the Federal Migration Service increased visa-free travel privileges for Ukrainian citizens—including military-age men—to more than 90 days.