Increase in Danish tourist visas issued to Russians

There has been an increase in Danish tourist visas issued to Russians this year, according to the Danish Immigration Service, despite Ukraine's President asking governments to close their borders to Russian tourists.

Tourists at Nyhavn, Copenhagen.
Tourists at Nyhavn, Copenhagen. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

In the first five months of 2022, almost three times as many tourist visas were granted to Russian citizens compared to the whole of 2021, Danish newspaper Politiken reported with figures from the Danish Immigration Service,.

141 tourist visas were granted to Russian citizens during the first five months of 2022, which equates to 28 tourist visas a month. During the 12 months of 2021, 49 tourist visas were given to Russians, which is around four tourist visas a month.

The difference in numbers could be due to the coronavirus travel restrictions during 2021.

However Immigration Minister Kaare Dybvad told Politiken that he was “surprised” by the figures. 

“It’s not about 141 people being a large number and filling up summer houses along the west coast, it is more the principle,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on countries in the West to close their borders to all Russian tourists.

The governments of both Finland and Estonia, which both share a border with Russia, have agreed and called on the rest of the EU to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens.

“A pan-European response, as Estonia has proposed is sensible. It is clear that if Russians can enter one country in Europe, then in principle they can enter the entire Schengen area. That is why the sanctions must be done within the EU framework”, Dybvad told Politiken.

Regarding the tourism sanctions, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said earlier this week that “we are open to discussing all of this with our European and North American colleagues.”

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Sweden detects fourth leak at Nord Stream pipelines in Baltic Sea

A fourth leak has been detected in undersea pipelines running from Russia to Europe, the Swedish Coast Guard said Thursday, after pipeline explosions earlier this week in the Danish and Swedish economic zones, in suspected sabotage.

Sweden detects fourth leak at Nord Stream pipelines in Baltic Sea

“There are two leaks on the Swedish side and two leaks on the Danish side,” a Swedish Coast Guard official said, after three leaks were confirmed earlier this week on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

The official added that the two leaks on the Swedish side are “close to each other”.

The Swedish coast guard could not immediately say why the latest leak only appeared days after the initial breaches. 

Media reported that the latest leak was detected at the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, but the coast guard did not confirm this. 

Sweden had previously reported a leak on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline northeast of Bornholm, while Denmark has confirmed a leak on Nord Stream 2 to the southeast of the island, and another to the northeast above Nord Stream 1.

The vast leaks cause significant bubbling at the surface of the sea several hundred metres wide, making it impossible to immediately inspect the structures. 

Suspicions of sabotage emerged after the leaks were detected. Moscow denied it was behind the explosions, as did the United States, saying Moscow’s suggestion it would damage the pipeline was “ridiculous”. 

The UN Security Council will meet Friday to discuss the incident.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which link Russia to Germany, have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions in recent months as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

While the pipelines — operated by a consortium majority-owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom — are not currently in operation, they both still contained gas.

On Thursday, NATO declared that the damage was “the result of deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage”.

“These leaks are causing risks to shipping and substantial environmental damage,” the Western military alliance said in a statement.

Danish officials said on Wednesday – prior to the discovery of the fourth leak – that more than half of the gas in the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea had leaked into the atmosphere after they were damaged.

“A clear majority of the gas has already come out of the pipes,” the head of the Danish Energy Agency, Kristoffer Böttzauw, told a press conference.

“We expect the rest to escape by Sunday,” he added.

Defence Minister Morten Bødskov said Wednesday morning that, due to pressure of the gas leaking out, it would take “one or two weeks” before inspections of the damaged structures could begin.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said at a symposium in Paris that to him it was “very obvious” who was behind the leaks.

He said natural gas shortages in the wake of the war in Ukraine could make for a tough winter in Europe.

“In the absence of a major negative surprise, I think Europe, in terms of natural gas, can survive this winter with a lot of bruises in our bodies in terms of prices, economy and social issues, but we can go through that,” Birol said.