The European Union will need to establish a joint position on requests for entry by Russians fleeing their country due to the war in Ukraine, the bloc's executive said on Thursday.
The European Commission said, however, that member states will have to assess requests on a case-by-case basis, taking into account fundamental rights and asylum procedure legislation.
Commission spokesperson Peter Stano noted reports of many Russians trying to leave the country after president Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation on Wednesday, and said half a million have left since the invasion of Ukraine in February.
"There have been protests in a number of cities across Russia," he told a news briefing. "This is showing that the Russians are voting with their feet."
"We as the European Union, in principle we stand in solidarity with the Russian citizens who have the courage and bravery to show their opposition to what the regime is doing, especially when it comes to this illegal war in Ukraine," he added.
Another spokesperson said that when it comes to requests for entry at EU borders, this "must be carried out in line with EU law", which includes compliance with fundamental rights and all of the legislation in place for asylum procedures.
"Given this unprecedented situation, the member states will be looking at these on a case-by-case basis," the spokesperson added.
A third spokesperson said: "We will need to have a joint position at the EU level" on the question of requests given that there could be a large number of demands for entry from Russia.