NewsFinland seeks to completely block the entry of Russian...

Finland seeks to completely block the entry of Russian tourists

Finland announced this Friday its intention to completely block the entry of Russian tourists even if they have a visa, alleging that these can cause “serious damage to Finland’s international position.”

The measure, which will come into force “as soon as possible”, was agreed this Friday by the Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, and the Government’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, in response to the growing arrival of Russian citizens after the mobilization decree to fight in the Ukraine war.

“All tourists will be blocked from crossing the border. This applies both to those traveling on Schengen visas previously issued by Finland and those traveling on Schengen visas issued by other countries,” he told a news conference. Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.

According to Haavisto, the new restrictions will probably begin to apply from next week, once the technical and legal preparation of the measure is completed.

The head of Finnish diplomacy clarified that the veto will not affect those Russian citizens who arrive in the Nordic country for family, work, study or humanitarian reasons.

Finland thus joins the three Baltic republics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland, which applied similar measures since last Monday, alleging that the entry of Russian tourists into their respective countries could endanger national security.

Today, Finland, which shares with Russia the longest border in the European Union (EU) —1,340 kilometers—, is the only EU country bordering Russia that accepts the entry of Russian citizens with a visa issued by its own services. consular offices or by those of any other country in the Schengen area.

The Finnish authorities had unsuccessfully tried to get the EU to agree to ban the granting of tourist visas to Russian citizens, but the lack of agreement ended up turning the Nordic country into the gateway for Russians to the European Community.

The Finnish authorities had unsuccessfully tried to get the EU to agree to ban the granting of tourist visas to Russian citizens, but the lack of agreement ended up turning the Nordic country into the gateway for Russians to the European Community.

With air and rail connections severed by European sanctions against Moscow, thousands of Russians continue to arrive daily in Finland by road, most of them crossing the four border posts in southeastern Finland (Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala).

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that 300,000 reservists were to be mobilized to fight in Ukraine prompted an immediate increase in border traffic to Finland.

That same day, a total of 4,403 Russian citizens crossed the southeastern border, usually the busiest due to its proximity to Saint Petersburg, 57% more than the same day the previous week, and on Thursday 5,559 people did so, 107 % plus.

“This morning there are still a lot of people, … maybe it has increased a little compared to yesterday,” said a spokesman for the border guard.

Max, a 21-year-old Russian student who did not want to give his last name, said he was going to Finland to catch a flight to Germany to visit relatives.

Three people had applied for asylum on Thursday. None had done so the week before, he said.

A Russian couple, Slava, 29, and Evgeniy, 35, also left, uncertain whether they would ever be called up.

They had decided to leave the moment Putin announced the partial mobilization on Wednesday, they said. They left their dog Moby with some friends. Their families cried when they left, they said.

“At the current stage, we have not been called, but we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow,” Slava told Reuters. “We don’t support what is happening now. We don’t want to be a part of it.”

“It was a difficult decision (to leave). We have plans, we have races. The best scenario is to come back. On the other hand, (saving our) life is essential.”

Finnish land border crossings have remained among the few entry points into Europe for Russians after a number of countries closed both their physical borders and their airspace to Russian aircraft in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Technically, I am a student so I shouldn’t be afraid of being recruited, but we have seen that things are changing very quickly so I assume there is a chance,” he told Reuters after crossing the border at Vaalimaa.

“I just want to be safe,” he said.

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