Russia imposes entry ban
According to the Dutch government, Moscow has a blacklist with names of European politicians who are banned from entering Russia. Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned the travel ban saying it was in breach of international law, and other governments have joined in the criticism. The affair highlights Moscow's unpredictability, some commentators believe. Others are surprised at the indignant reactions coming from across Europe.
Moscow politically unpredictable
The list of people banned from entering Russia shows how different Russia and the EU really are, the public broadcaster Deutschlandradio Kultur comments: "Each time the EU has imposed sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian politicians and businessmen it immediately published the list. Consequently those affected knew what to expect. And there's a causal relation between those sanctioned and their role in the Ukraine conflict. Russia's approach is entirely different. It's not always clear why a certain name is on the list. Or why this list is being made public now of all times. ... For that reason the 28 EU heads of state and government must send a clear signal at their next summit meeting in Brussels at the end of June, and prolong the economic sanctions against Russia. This is about political predictability, or in other words, exactly what the Russian leadership so desperately lacks."
Overreactions on both sides
The scandal over Russia's travel ban for European politicians is symptomatic of the change in Europe's relationship with Russia, the Christian-social daily Trouw comments: "The term 'cold war' has been mentioned frequently in this context. But history doesn't repeat itself. There can be no talk of fear of communism here. And the relationship is not cold but overheated. Unlike in the past Russia and Europe have close economic ties. Almost three decades of intense trading between the two have passed. For Brussels this means a complicated balancing act between a tough and a soft approach. … The dialogue with Moscow must continue. … Moreover incidents like this are an additional incentive to reduce Europe's reliance on Russian gas."
The boomerang comes back
Russia's blacklist of European politicians banned from entering its territory is an entirely normal reaction to the EU's ban against certain Russians, writes the pro-Russian daily Duma: "In diplomacy, the principle of mutuality is key. If a country opens up an embassy in another country, that country does the same. If a country expels a diplomat, the other country does too, and so on. In big politics the same applies: if you apply sanctions you get counter-sanctions and if you deny entry to unwanted persons you can expect that your people will be refused as well. … So the Europeans shouldn't act all surprised now. The danger is if this game turns serious, because there's reason enough for it to do so and the principle of mutuality also plays a key role when it comes to the military."