Poland began to enforce a ban on Russian-registered cars entering the country on Sunday, as part of the latest sanctions imposed by the European Union.
Under the EU’s decision, cars registered in the Russia are no longer allowed to enter the territory of the 27-member bloc.
“A car registered in Russia has no right to enter Poland,” Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said.
“This is another element of the sanctions imposed on Russia and its citizens in connection with the brutal war in Ukraine, due to the fact that the Russian state today constitutes a threat to international security."
Poland has a land border with the Russian territory of Kaliningrad, an exclave separated from the Russian mainland.
The Polish Border Guard agency said the ban would be the same regardless of which border the vehicles sought to cross. Its website says all Russian-registered cars “will be returned to the non-EU country from which they came, regardless of whether it is Russia or another country".
"Such actions will be carried out even if the driver of the car is not a citizen of the Russian Federation.”
The move comes only days after Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia also banned vehicles with Russian registration plates from entering their countries.
On Friday, Finland also adopted the ban on Russian-registered cars with fewer than 10 passengers, although the Finnish broadcaster YLE said some exceptions were likely.
Finland joined Nato in April, doubling the length Russia’s border with the military alliance.
One Russian official denounced Europe’s ban on its cars as racist.
"It's just racism," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. "This is racism, pure and simple."
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, suggested that Moscow could retaliate by suspending diplomatic ties with all EU member countries and recalling its diplomats from Brussels.