Russia advises against travel to UK

A pigeon flies past one of the Kremlin towers and the Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Moscow on April 5, 2022.  (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

Moscow on Friday advised its citizens against travel to the United Kingdom, citing London’s “unfriendly” stance as well as huge delays in visas for Russians.

“In order to avoid financial losses and other possible problems, we recommend that Russian citizens refrain, if possible, from travelling to the UK and trying to obtain British visas,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

It added that it will “act in the same way” with British citizens until the situation improves.

The ministry said it received “numerous complaints from Russian citizens that it has become virtually impossible or extremely difficult for them to obtain a UK visa” of any category.

Britain’s visa service “gives priority to the processing of visa applications for Ukrainian refugees,” the foreign ministry in Moscow added, also pointing out that Russians are unable to pay their visa fees using Mastercard of Visa cards issued in Russia.

The ministry said such an approach “contradicts all previously reached Russian-British agreements on consular issues” and “can only be described as a politicised infringement of the rights of Russian citizens”.

Britain has been part of an international effort to punish Russia with asset freezes, travel bans and economic sanctions, since President Vladimir Putin moved troops into Ukraine on February 24.

On Friday, Britain announced new sanctions targeting 12 members of Putin’s “inner circle”, including Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast who the UK government said was “alleged to have a close personal relationship with Putin”.