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Germany's Scholz supports Russian refugees coming to EU

August 15, 2022

Speaking at a Nordic leaders' summit, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Kremlin critics should be able to flee Russia without added complication, as several European countries eye an EU visa ban for Russian citizens.

Magdalena Andersson, Jonas Gahr Store, Mette Frederiksen, Olaf Scholz, Katrin Jakobsdöttir, Sanna Marin
Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with five Nordic heads of state in OsloImage: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Monday that it is important to "remember the many refugees who have fled Russia," as debate continues over EU visa bans for Russian citizens amid Moscow's war in Ukraine.  

Speaking at summit of Nordic heads of state in Oslo, Scholz said that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is "Putin's war" and "not the Russian people's."

"It is important to us to understand that there are a lot of people fleeing from Russia because they are disagreeing with the Russian regime,'' Scholz told a press conference. 

Scholz added that EU decisions should not "make it more complicated" for these people leave Russia and "look for freedom." 

Lithuania and Estonia, Baltic EU member states bordering Russia, have already suspended tourist visas to Russians. Finland has also expressed support for a visa ban. 

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said at Monday's summit that she didn't think is was right for Russian citizens to be allowed to go "sightseeing" in the EU while the Russian military "kills people in Ukraine." 

Marin added that the issue needed to be discussed further by EU member states. "It is not a black or white question, there are shades of grey,'' she said. 

The visa issue is expected to be on the agenda at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers set for August 31. 

Lithuania limits visas for Russians, FM says

Energy independence also on the summit agenda

Scholz's guest appearance at the Nordic summit comes as the leaders of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland are seeking closer defense and security ties

For months, the German government has been working on building closer ties with Nordic countries on energy, as Berlin says Russia has "weaponized" gas and oil. 

Norway has been Germany's most important gas supplier since Russia cut supplies in June.  

On Monday, Summit host, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, said Norway is delivering the "maximum" possible amount of gas to Germany. 

Scholz expressed "gratitude" that Norway is "stretching its gas supplies to the limit." Scholz said that Germany and Nordic countries are "facing the same challenges" and should work on pooling energy resources. 

"We are working to become independent of fossil fuels from Russia," Scholz said.

Germany and Nordic states "combining forces" to develop renewable energy resources is essential for this, the chancellor added. 

Store also said that phasing out fossil fuels will be "difficult and turbulent." 

los/wmr (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)