Israelis Fleeing Russia Allowed Into Estonia if They 'Tell the Truth,' Ambassador Says

After reports that Israelis holding dual citizenship were denied entry, Estonian ambassador says most Russian-Israelis fleeing Putin's conscription push are allowed in – but only after they can prove they are doing so for the right reason

Liza Rozovsky
Liza Rozovsky
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Vehicles await entry into Estonia on the bridge over Narva river at the border crossing point with Russia in Narva, Estonia September 18, 2022. REUTERS/Janis Laizans
Vehicles await entry into Estonia on the bridge over Narva river at the border crossing point with Russia in Narva, Estonia September 18, 2022. REUTERS/Janis LaizansCredit: JANIS LAIZANS/ REUTERS
Liza Rozovsky
Liza Rozovsky

Following a Haaretz report about Estonia denying entry to Israelis with dual Russian citizenship attempting to flee Russia in the past several days, Estonian Ambassador to Israel Veikko Kala claimed that Israeli citizens were only prevented from entering if they misled border guards over the purpose of their trip.

Amid a massive exodus of Russians following President Vladimir Putin's conscription declaration, 42 Israeli passport holders crossed the Estonian-Russian border in the last 24 hours, according to Kala, while 13 others were denied, eight of which were dual Russian-Israeli citizens.

"During the past week, there have been a few cases where Russian-Israeli citizens have been prevented from entering Estonia because the border guards had reason to believe that the actual purpose of their trip was not as stated," Kala said. "As long as the Israeli citizens, who want to go home through Estonia or visit Estonia, have the required documents, nothing is stopping them from entering Estonia, given that they do not give misleading information about their visit."

Russian recruits near a military recruitment center in Krasnodar, Russia, on Sunday.Credit: AP

As reported by Haaretz, in one case an Israeli trying to cross the border presented a plane ticket to Tel Aviv, but said that the border guard replied that "he can buy 10 tickets like this." In another case, Israelis who were initially refused entry were allowed to cross after purchasing plane tickets to Tel Aviv and presenting health insurance valid in the European Union.

On Saturday, the Estonian Embassy to Israel published detailed instructions on its website for those seeking to cross the Russian border, including the purchase of insurance and ability to prove travelers have sufficient funds to reach their final destination.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed on Sunday that it has been contacted by Israelis who were barred entry to Estonia from Russia and that it was working to resolve the matter, adding that 186 Israelis have successfully crossed the border to Estonia, 80 of whom have dual citizenship. Only four Israelis were denied entry on Sunday, the ministry said.

On September 19, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland closed their borders to Russian citizens. However, this restriction does not apply to people travelling with an Israeli passport since they do not require visas to enter EU member countries – including Estonia.

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