War in Ukraine: Finland still wants to restrict the entry of Russians

War in Ukraine: Finland still wants to restrict the entry of Russians
Kharkiv at the start of the war. Credit: Belga

Finland will work out a "national solution" to restrict or even block "Russian tourists" from passing through its territory, the country's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto announced.

In summer, large numbers of Russians tried to cross the border into Finland. However, in September, the Nordic country slashed by ten the number of visas granted to Russians, in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Finland is currently the only EU member bordering Russia that lets Russians through with Schengen visas. Poland and the three Baltic countries decided in early September to prevent the entry of Russian citizens. Now Finland, too, is angling to do so.

The Finnish government “has decided to prepare a national solution (…) on how to limit or completely prevent this Russian tourist traffic,” Haavisto said on Wednesday evening. This could include new legislation that would be adopted very quickly, or an interpretation of current legislation, he said.

"Finland also does not want to be a transit country for Schengen visas issued by other countries," Haavisto added. "We now want to bring this transit traffic under control."

Helsinki is calling for a common European decision but "cannot be sure that it will happen quickly," according to the Foreign Minister.

According to a poll published by the daily Ilta-Sanomat on Wednesday, around 70% of Finns want an end to the issuing of tourist visas to Russians.

Meanwhile, despite Vladimir Putin's announcement on Wednesday of the mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of reservists to relaunch his offensive in Ukraine, border traffic was "normal," according to the Finnish border guard service.

The situation "has not changed significantly," it said on Twitter, denying rumours circulating online of queues several kilometres long.

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