The European Parliament has voted to provide visa-free travel to Ukrainian citizens. This is a major coup for the current Ukrainian government, especially for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has lobbied hard for this outcome. The vote gives great benefits to ordinary Ukrainians and will be seen in Kyiv as a victory for Ukraine against Russia.
The Kremlin has fought multiple battles in its effort to keep Ukraine from drawing closer to Brussels. The battle in the East seems to be drawing towards a climactic conclusion as the fighting intensifies. Russia has made moves that suggest recognition of the area or outright annexation. Poroshenko has thrown his weight behind a recent blockade of the East for Ukrainian industry, which has damaged economic growth. Visa-free travel cannot be discounted in its importance to the Ukrainian people.
European lawmakers voted 521 to 75 to grant Ukrainians holding biometric passports the right to visit for up to 90 days for tourism, business or visiting relatives and friends. “Great day for the people of Europe and Ukraine,” said Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, a Swedish member of the Parliament. The visa waiver, which does not give Ukrainians the right to work in the EU, is expected to take effect this summer, reported Reuters.