Zoom Image

A sign on a Lithuanian border town: From now on, Russian cars will no longer be allowed to pass in the direction of the EU

Photo: IMAGO/Artur Widak / IMAGO/NurPhoto

The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have closed their borders to vehicles registered in Russia. In line with the guidelines of the EU Commission, no one will be allowed to cross the border into Estonia in a car with Russian license plates from Wednesday morning, according to the Interior Ministry in Tallinn.

Estonia thus follows the other two Baltic states, Latvia and Lithuania, where the rule already applies. Cars with Russian license plates must therefore turn back at the external borders of the three EU and NATO states. Otherwise, the vehicles could be confiscated, it said.

Exceptions apply, for example, to transit traffic between Russia and its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad and to vehicles used by diplomatic and consular missions. Conversely, cars with Russian license plates are allowed to leave the Baltic states across the EU's external border, provided that they are only used as a means of transport.

The background to this is a clarification by the EU Commission on 8 September on the implementation of the EU sanctions imposed on Russia. According to this, vehicles registered in Russia are no longer allowed to enter the territory of the EU. It does not matter whether they are used privately or commercially.

"We cannot allow the citizens of an aggressor state to enjoy the benefits of freedom and democracy while Russia continues its genocide in Ukraine," said Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna. The binding entry ban is right and the restrictions will have a greater impact if they are implemented together.

In response to Russia's war against Ukraine, the Baltic states, together with Poland, had previously stopped entry for many people from the neighboring country almost a year ago.