Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday introducing visa restrictions for citizens of countries that Moscow deems "unfriendly" in response to sanctions over Ukraine.
The decree, which comes into force on Monday, suspends Russia's simplified visa issuance regime with some European Union countries as well as Norway, Switzerland, Denmark and Iceland.
It also ordered the Russian foreign ministry and other bodies to decide on introducing personal entry restrictions on "foreign citizens and stateless people who commit unfriendly actions against Russia, its citizens or its legal entities." Last month the Russian government approved a list of unfriendly countries including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Britain, other EU states and Ukraine, among others.
Meanwhile, the Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin announced plans to end restrictions on flights to and from 52 countries after April 9th, part of its plans to reduce measures taken to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Russia plans to resume flights to and from Argentina, South Africa and other "friendly countries", Mishustin said on Monday, meaning those that have not joined the latest wave of Western sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special operation" to demilitarise its neighbour.
Russia imposed broad travel restrictions at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, many of which remain in force, but has gradually expanded the list of countries deemed safe for air travel.
Other countries with which Russia will resume flights after April 9th include Algeria, China, Lebanon, Peru and Pakistan, Russia's coronavirus task force said.
Mishustin also said Russia would be lifting restrictions on travel across the land border between Russia and China.
Russia has closed its airspace to airlines from 36 countries, including all 27 members of the European Union, in response to Ukraine-related sanctions targeting its aviation sector.
Punitive measures imposed by Western powers have also forced Western firms to terminate leasing contracts with Russian airlines for over 500 aircraft.
The sanctions also prevent Russian airlines from buying aircraft parts or maintenance services from Europe or the United States, adding to the pressure on the world's 11th largest aviation market from a ban on using North American and European airspace.
Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24th in what it called a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour's military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.
Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.