Poland has joined the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in imposing a ban on all passenger cars registered in Russia from entering its territory. The ban, which took effect on Sunday, is part of the European Union’s sanctions on Moscow for its aggression against Ukraine.
The Polish Interior Minister, Mariusz Kaminski, said the ban was “another element of the sanctions imposed on Russia and its citizens in connection with the brutal war in Ukraine, due to the fact that the Russian state today constitutes a threat to international security”.
The EU’s decision, which was announced last week, prohibits motor vehicles bearing registration of the Russian Federation from accessing the territory of the 27-member bloc. The move was denounced by Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, as racist. He threatened to suspend diplomatic ties with the EU and recall its diplomats from Brussels.
Poland shares a land border with the Russian territory of Kaliningrad, which is an exclave separated from the Russian mainland. The Polish Border Guard agency said that Russian-tagged cars would be returned to the non-EU country from which they came, regardless of whether it is Russia or another country. The agency also said that the ban would apply even if the driver of the car was not a citizen of the Russian Federation.
Poland and the Baltic states are among the most vocal European critics of Russia and President Vladimir Putin. They have been supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and backed separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. The conflict has killed more than 14,000 people and displaced over a million.