Finland considers eastern fence after thousands of Russians cross border

Finland considers eastern fence after thousands of Russians cross border
Queus at the border to Finland. Credit: Tuomas Vitikainen / Wikimedia

Thousands of Russians crossed the border into Finland this weekend after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "partial mobilisation" last week.

On Tuesday, Finland's Interior Minister Krista Mikkonen said that Finland should consider building a fence along critical points on its eastern border following the uptake.

Speaking on Finnish television on Tuesday morning, Mikkonen responded to a report from the border guard which suggested a fence to prevent unauthorised border crossings from Russia.

17,000 Russians crossed the border to Finland this weekend alone, according to Finnish authorities. Outside the EU, Russians have fled to neighbouring Georgia as well as Turkey. Prices for flights leaving Russia have skyrocketed since Putin's partial mobilisation announcement.

Could Russia stop people from leaving?

On Monday, Russian politician Sergei Tsekov told RIA news agency that Russia should ban draft-age people from leaving the country. Asked about the possibility, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that "No decisions have been made for now."

But if Russia eventually decides to forbid people from leaving the country, Finland's long, unfenced border could be at risk of unauthorised crossings.

"No one thinks that the entire 1,300 kilometre-long border should be fenced off. There are areas where the risk of crossings are higher," said Mikkonen.

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After Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 Finland boosted its security services, particularly its Defence and Border guard.

Yet many Finns are still concerned about Russians entering the country as Finland still issues limited tourist visas (unlike the Baltics which have closed its doors to Russians completely).

"The Border Guard can move personnel to where they are needed most," Mikkonen assured, adding that border control carries out strict checks for everyone entering the country.

"We also conduct enhanced surveillance of [border] terrain; it will be noticed if someone attempts to cross the border."

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