Tallinn, April 17: Estonia is banning Russian ships from entering its ports starting Sunday as part of the EU sanctions against Moscow over its special military operation in Ukraine, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure said.

"From Sunday, April 17, ships flying the Russian flag are banned from entering ports of the EU, including Estonia. This is one of the sanctions measures previously approved by the European Union. EU ports are also closed from now on for ships that changed their flag from Russian to another flag after February 24," the ministry said in a statement.

Vessels with the Russian flag in distress will still be allowed to enter Estonian ports in exceptional circumstances with the permission of the Police and Border Guard Board, which will determine in advance the need for assistance. Russia-Ukraine War: Volodymyr Zelenskyy Warns of Possibility of Vladimir Putin Using Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine.

Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas said that the EU is rethinking its economic activity in favour of greater independence from Russia. Bulgaria has also confirmed enacting the ban on Russian-flagged ships on Sunday.

On February 24, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine after the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk appealed for help in defending themselves against Ukrainian forces. Western countries and their allies responded by imposing comprehensive sanctions against Russia.

The European Union has also vowed to reduce its dependency on Russian energy. On April 8, the bloc announced the fifth package of anti-Russian sanctions, which included a ban on imports of coal and other solid fossils from the country starting from August 2022, a ban on the entry of Russian ships into EU ports and restrictions on Russian and Belarusian road transport companies.

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