January 28, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

Russians’ Luxury Cars Fill Helsinki Airport Garage As Tourists Sidestep Flight Ban : by Tyler Durden

Russians’ Luxury Cars Fill Helsinki Airport Garage As Tourists Sidestep Flight Ban

From Porsche 911s to Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans, Range Rovers and Bentleys, luxury cars with Russian plates abound in the Helsinki airport parking garage, as wealthy Russians are driving across the border to sidestep Ukraine War-inspired flight restrictions. 

The European Union shut its airspace to Russian planes after the February invasion. However, resourceful Russians aren’t letting that stand between them and vacations in Europe and elsewhere: They’re simply driving to Helsinki and flying on from there. 

High-end vehicles with Russian license plates are everywhere in the Helsinki airport garage (Alessandro Rampazzo/AFP via Moscow Times

For most, the centerpiece of the work-around is a “Schengen visa.” The Schengen Area is a passport-free travel zone that spans most of Europe. Schengen visas can be issued to Russians — or others — by any of the member countries, allowing holders to stay for up to 90 days and travel to any other member country.   

“They come here on Schengen visas issued by various different countries and then continue further via Helsinki airport,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told AFP.

The Schengen Area, which allows passport-free travel among member states. Not all members are EU countries, and not all EU states are Schengen members. (via Schengen Visa Info)

An AFP reporter’s casual stroll through the Helsinki airport garage suggests there could be hundreds of Russian vehicles parked there as their owners galavant despite the Western ban on flights to and from their country.

The phenomenon is ruffling some Finnish feathers: Earlier this month, Finland said it would cut its issuance of Russian tourist visas by 90%. However, according to August Finnish border guard observations, about two-thirds of the visas used by Russians were issued by countries other than Finland.

Poland, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania stopped issuing visas to Russians after the invasion of Ukraine. Historically, countries issuing the most Schengen visas to Russians include Hungary, Spain, Italy, Austria and Greece.

A Russian-tagged Bentley in the Helsinki airport garage (AFP via Euronews

Estonia has threatened to bar Russians altogether, even if they have a visa issued by another member state. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has urged Estonia to pump the brakes: “This is not the Russian people’s war, it is Putin’s war.” 

Finland is planning to elevate the issue at an Aug 30 meeting of EU foreign ministers. Bending to pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskey and hardline-EU governments, the ministers are expected to endorse a suspension of the EU’s visa facilitation agreement with Russia, according to the Financial Times.

While that would only be a first step toward a potential ban, it would make the process more complicated, expensive and far lengthier for Russian applicants. Some officials want a ban that would also hits citizens of Belarus, which has backed the Russian invasion.  

Defenders of the status quo note that it’s essential for anyone who wants to flee Russia permanently. Others are leery of punishing individual Russians who have no control over the country’s foreign policy.

On the other hand, there are plenty of officials eager to impose group punishment on innocents. One senior EU official involved in visa talks told the Financial Times, “It is inappropriate for Russian tourists to stroll in our cities, on our marinas. We have to send a signal to the Russian population that this war is not OK, it is not acceptable.”

Tyler Durden
Tue, 08/30/2022 – 04:15

​ Russians’ Luxury Cars Fill Helsinki Airport Garage As Tourists Sidestep Flight Ban

From Porsche 911s to Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans, Range Rovers and Bentleys, luxury cars with Russian plates abound in the Helsinki airport parking garage, as wealthy Russians are driving across the border to sidestep Ukraine War-inspired flight restrictions. 

The European Union shut its airspace to Russian planes after the February invasion. However, resourceful Russians aren’t letting that stand between them and vacations in Europe and elsewhere: They’re simply driving to Helsinki and flying on from there. 
High-end vehicles with Russian license plates are everywhere in the Helsinki airport garage (Alessandro Rampazzo/AFP via Moscow Times) 

For most, the centerpiece of the work-around is a “Schengen visa.” The Schengen Area is a passport-free travel zone that spans most of Europe. Schengen visas can be issued to Russians — or others — by any of the member countries, allowing holders to stay for up to 90 days and travel to any other member country.   

“They come here on Schengen visas issued by various different countries and then continue further via Helsinki airport,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told AFP.
The Schengen Area, which allows passport-free travel among member states. Not all members are EU countries, and not all EU states are Schengen members. (via Schengen Visa Info)

An AFP reporter’s casual stroll through the Helsinki airport garage suggests there could be hundreds of Russian vehicles parked there as their owners galavant despite the Western ban on flights to and from their country.

The phenomenon is ruffling some Finnish feathers: Earlier this month, Finland said it would cut its issuance of Russian tourist visas by 90%. However, according to August Finnish border guard observations, about two-thirds of the visas used by Russians were issued by countries other than Finland.

Poland, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania stopped issuing visas to Russians after the invasion of Ukraine. Historically, countries issuing the most Schengen visas to Russians include Hungary, Spain, Italy, Austria and Greece.
A Russian-tagged Bentley in the Helsinki airport garage (AFP via Euronews) 

Estonia has threatened to bar Russians altogether, even if they have a visa issued by another member state. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has urged Estonia to pump the brakes: “This is not the Russian people’s war, it is Putin’s war.” 

Finland is planning to elevate the issue at an Aug 30 meeting of EU foreign ministers. Bending to pleas from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskey and hardline-EU governments, the ministers are expected to endorse a suspension of the EU’s visa facilitation agreement with Russia, according to the Financial Times.

While that would only be a first step toward a potential ban, it would make the process more complicated, expensive and far lengthier for Russian applicants. Some officials want a ban that would also hits citizens of Belarus, which has backed the Russian invasion.  

Defenders of the status quo note that it’s essential for anyone who wants to flee Russia permanently. Others are leery of punishing individual Russians who have no control over the country’s foreign policy.

On the other hand, there are plenty of officials eager to impose group punishment on innocents. One senior EU official involved in visa talks told the Financial Times, “It is inappropriate for Russian tourists to stroll in our cities, on our marinas. We have to send a signal to the Russian population that this war is not OK, it is not acceptable.”

Tyler Durden
Tue, 08/30/2022 – 04:15 

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