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UAE cancels visa-free regime for Ukrainians amid Russian invasion


The Shehyni border crossing is where people who fled Russia’s invading of Ukraine are waiting to be allowed into Poland. This will happen near Mostyska (Ukraine), on March 1, 2022.

Thomas Peter | Reuters

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates has suspended its visa-free regime with Ukraine that allowed Ukrainian citizens to stay in the country for up to 30 days without the need for a visa.

On the Facebook page of the Ukrainian EmbassyOn March 1, six days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and amid an outflow from hundreds of thousands Ukrainian refugees fleeing the country, the UAE was home to the first of many.

Facebook posted that the United Arab Emirates would temporarily suspend action of Memorandum of Mutual Understanding between Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, and Government of United Arab Emirates regarding mutual cancellation of visa requirements.

It stated that citizens of Ukraine, who have passports of Ukrainian citizens for traveling abroad, should apply for a visa to visit the UAE.

CNBC received the confirmation via telephone from the embassy.

According to the Post, “The Temporary Suspension of Action of the Memorandum for Mutual Understanding does not apply in respect of those Ukrainian citizens currently living in UAE.” “The Embassy will provide further information regarding citizens of Ukraine, who came to UAE to enjoy tourist activities but were prevented from returning to Ukraine by the Russian Federation’s beginning of armed aggression.

This shocking announcement stunned Ukrainians living in Ukraine, with many commenting on it with bewilderment and anger. Around 15,000 Ukrainians live and work in UAE. This small desert kingdom is home to approximately 90% expatriates. According to the Ukrainian government, 250,000 tourists visit the country each year.

The Russian military’s bombing campaign against Ukraine intensified after President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in Ukraine’s eastern region. However, the invasion rapidly spread throughout the entire country. Heavy bombing was carried out in civilian and military areas especially in Kyiv, and Kharkiv. Putin is believed be seeking to remove the government of Ukraine and has called for a complete demilitarization.

According to Ukraine’s government, hundreds of victims have been reported. Officials from the West now worry about their safety. the war is set to enter a far more destructive phaseAn enormous Russian military convoy is heading towards Kyiv and more brutal killings.

The U.N. reports that more than 600,000 people fled Ukraine in March, as per the U.N.

One resident of Ukraine, who asked to remain anonymous due to fear for his safety and professional interests, said that he has great respect for Dubai as a UAE citizen.

He said, “The best way to describe this feeling would be “disgusted” and that many people have expressed interest in leaving here, which he also added.

Uncertain as to the motivation for UAE’s decision, a representative of the Ukrainian Embassy in Dubai told CNBC that it was still not clear. CNBC spoke with a representative from the Ukrainian Embassy in UAE who said that the UAE government did not know the reasons for this policy shift. CNBC has reached out to the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs for clarification.

The UAE does not condemn Russia directly

One of the few countries to abstain from U.N. Security Council’s procedural voting, which was required for a session on Ukraine condemning Russian invasion, is the UAE.

On Monday, the UAE’s Explanation of Vote stated: “As our conveyed Friday, the developments Ukraine undermine regional peace and security.” “The UAE reiterates the importance of protecting civilians in Ukraine, particularly given the current security crisis. “We reiterate the need to adhere to the UN Charter principles, including sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity, of all Member States.”

In the meantime, the U.S., EU and a grouping of 87 U.N. members condemned Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. China and India were also notable absentees. The country has been isolated by increasing international isolation and Western sanctions, which were announced this weekend.

According to WAM’s state news agency, some 40,000 Russians reside in UAE. According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, trade relations between the two countries have improved. Between 1996 and 2019, Russian exports from the UAE increased by 22% annually to $2.47 Billion in 2019. Paintings and precious metals were the most popular exports. The UAE’s exports to Russia increased by 17% over the same period, and aircraft parts remained as their top export.

Russian citizens are eligible for a 90 day tourist visa upon their arrival to the UAE.

Russia and UAE’s OPEC+ ties

Importantly, Russia and the UAE have worked together in OPEC+ for many years. It is an alliance of OPEC- and non-OPEC oil producing states, led largely Saudi Arabia and Russia. Brent crude oil traded at $110 Wednesday due to the Ukraine crisis, which has seen it rise already high prices. This is its highest price in seven years.

Ryan Bohl (a Rane analyst in the Middle East and Africa), said that there are probably many reasons why Russia is not being condemned by the UAE.

After fleeing Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, a woman is seen crying beside her children at Siret (Romania) border crossing on February 28, 2022.

Stoyan Nenov | Reuters

Bohl stated that the short-term reason for the higher oil prices is because they don’t want to repeat the errors of spring 2020 and get into a price war with Russia or destabilize the market. Bohl was referring specifically to the war over oil between Russia and the Gulf countries that saw crude oil prices plummet in spring 2020.

In general, the Gulf has been quiet. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have not condemned Russia outright.

He said that the second reason was more strategic because they do not see the benefits of condemning Russia and engaging in the West’s economic isolation strategy… They also realize that the United States will cut a weaker Iran agreement so it can leave the region.

“They would like to preserve the possibility that improved relations with Russia could offset any potential U.S. withdrawal.” drawdown.”