Poland on Sunday began enforcing a European Union ban on all Russian-registered passenger cars seeking to enter the country – the latest in a series of sanctions against Russia as punishment for its war against Ukraine.
According to the EU decision, motor vehicles registered in the Russian Federation will no longer be allowed to enter the territory of the 27-nation bloc.
“A car registered in Russia has no right to enter Poland,” Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said on Saturday, announcing the ban, which came into force hours later at midnight.
“This is another element of the sanctions imposed against Russia and its citizens in connection with the brutal war in Ukraine, as the Russian state today poses a threat to international security,” Kaminski said.
The move comes just days after nearby Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia banned vehicles with Russian license plates from entering their territory – a joint move in line with a recent interpretation of EU sanctions against Moscow.
Poland and the Baltic states are among the loudest European critics of Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
On Tuesday, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, condemned the European Commission’s move as racist. He suggested that Moscow could cut diplomatic ties with the EU and recall its diplomats from Brussels in retaliation.
Poland borders the Russian territory of Kaliningrad, an exclave separate from mainland Russia. The Border Patrol said the ban applied regardless of which border the vehicles wanted to cross.
In addition to Kaliningrad, Belarus and Ukraine are also located on Poland’s eastern borders. Otherwise it borders the EU and NATO allies Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Lithuania, where there are no border controls.
The border guard’s website said that Russia-marked cars “will be returned to the non-EU country from which they came, regardless of whether it is Russia or another country.” Such measures will also be carried out then , if the driver of the car is not a citizen of the Russian Federation.”