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Finland to shut down half of border crossing with Russia

Finish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said this restriction aims to limit crossings by people with “incomplete travel documents.”
Finland's border crossing with Russia
The Nuijamaa Border Crossing Point in Lappeenranta, Finland. Credit: Yle.
Finland to shut down half of border crossing with Russia

On 18 November, Finland will close four checkpoints on the border with Russia, Finnish public broadcaster Yle reported.

On 16 November, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said that the border crossings of Imatra, Niirala, Nuijamaa and Vaalimaa will cease operations on the eastern border of the country. The restrictions will last for three months, until 18 February 2024. However, four more checkpoints will continue operating on the border with Russia – those are Salla, Vartius, Raja-Josepi and Kuusamo.

The Prime Minister said the decision was made because “in recent months more people have been trying to cross the border with incomplete travel documents.” Previously, Russia did not allow those with such problems to cross.

In addition, according to Finnish border guards, 280 Russians have legally entered the country through the eastern border since September 2023. The number of people wishing to enter Finland from Russia is also increasing in the north. Against this backdrop, the authorities expressed concern to Russia but did not receive “concrete answers” to improve the situation.

Context

Back in September 2022, Finland closed the border to Russian tourists with Schengen visas. The government explained this decision by saying that Russian tourists jeopardize international relations.

At the same time, there were exceptions to this decision. The Finnish government compiled a list of about 10 reasons that allowed people to enter Finland. For example, Russians could visit relatives or attend an entrance exam at a Finnish educational institution, as well as travel for work-related reasons, such as business trips or interviews. In addition, truck traffic was allowed.

In April 2023, amid the war in Ukraine and to avoid a migration crisis, Finland began construction of the first section of the fence on the border with Russia, Suspilne reported.

According to Suspilne, on 16 September 2023, the country banned the entry of cars registered in Russia. This was done after an explanation from the European Commission to avoid evading EU sanctions. Since 9 November 2023, Russians have been banned from crossing the border into Finland on bicycles.

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