Since Russia launched its full-scale military invasion of Ukraine in February this year, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has been urging Estonian citizens in Russia to leave the country as soon as possible. However, in recent weeks, there have been repeated calls to this end, with the ministry pointing out, that the situation in Russia may be becoming increasingly dangerous for Estonian citizens.
"Due to Russia's military actions, we advise against all but essential travel to Russia, as well as the complete avoidance of trips to the regions bordering Ukraine," said a travel warning issued by the MFA on Friday. "Estonian citizens staying in Russia temporarily are asked to consider the importance of remaining in Russia and to return to Estonia if at all possible," the statement continued. A similar warning was also issued on Monday, September 26.
"We have issued repeated warnings at times when the Russian leadership has hardened its rhetoric or taken new steps that escalate the situation in regard to its aggression against Ukraine," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mihkel Tamm told ERR on Saturday.
Tamm also added, that it was important to note the unfriendly nature of recent comments made by the Russian leadership about Estonia, citing Moscow's claims that the killer of Darya Dugina, daughter of Aleksandr Dugin had fled to Estonia, as well as negative reactions in Russia to Estonia's recent removal of Soviet monuments.
According to the ministry, among other potential conflicts with the Russian authorities, Estonian citizens in Russia could face the increased possibility of being searched or detained under false pretenses.
However, people with dual Russian nationality who are currently in Russia may also be subject to mobilization, as Russia considers them to be its own citizens, Tamm said.
Estonian-Russian dual nationals also have to take into account that Estonia's ability to provide them with consular assistance is limited.
Consular assistance is only available from the Estonian embassy in Moscow, where, for example, if you lose your passport, you have to go in person to obtain a temporary replacement document, which would allow you to leave the country. Assistance in other situations - especially if the beneficiary is not in Moscow - is extremely difficult and time-consuming, the Foreign Ministry stressed.
Tamm also said that, given the mass exodus from Russia following the declaration of partial mobilization last week, the possibility that the Russian authorities will also introduce measures to prevent or restrict its citizens from leaving the country, cannot be ruled out.
Editor: Michael Cole