Norway weighs up ban on Russians tourists

Norway weighs up ban on Russians tourists
Norwegian border crossing station at Storskog. The exact border is between the two pillars behind the black van. There is a Russian station further away. Credit: Wikipedia

Norway will tighten border controls with Russia, announced the Norwegian Ministry of Justice on Friday. The Ministry added that the Norwegian-Russian border is being monitored closely after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilisation last week.

"We will close the borders quickly if necessary and can make changes at short notice. There have been few arrivals in Norway compared to Finland and the situation is different here," said Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl.

Norway's government believes that closing the border will increase the risk of illegal border crossings and therefore plans to boost border patrols in Sør-Varanger (in the very north of the country) instead.

Finland, along with a number of other European countries, has recently closed its borders to Russian tourists. The Norwegian government has decided to take a "wait and see" approach but is ready to make a decision quickly.

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Mobilisation in Russia and a potential travel ban for Russian citizens could increase the risk of illegal border crossings. The last few days have seen increased traffic at Russian borders with neighbouring countries and the cost of plane tickets out of Russia has skyrocketed.

Norway shares a 190 kilometres border with Russia in the far north of the country. Police helicopters will be stationed in the region from Friday to look out for illegal border crossings; in May Norway already made it more difficult for Russians to obtain visas.

Finland has made it all but impossible to cross the border unless for exceptional cases. Unlike Finland, Norway isn't a part of the EU although it is part of the Schengen area, which could allow Russians to access other EU Member States.

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