NewsWhy Finland will close its borders to ALL Russian...

Why Finland will close its borders to ALL Russian TOURISTS from midnight

HELSINKI, Finland – Finland said Thursday it would close its border to Russian tourists at midnight, blocking the last remaining direct land route for them to the European Union, as thousands of Russians try to avoid conscription in the Ukraine war.

The government said the move would cause a significant drop in cross-border traffic after nearly 17,000 Russians crossed the border into Finland over the weekend.

“The entry of Russian citizens for tourist purposes in Finland endangers Finland’s international relations,” Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said at a press conference, explaining that the decision had been made after talks. with Ukraine and its neighbors.

Haavisto said entry for family visits, as well as for work and study, would continue to be allowed.

With this decision, the Finnish government, wary of being a transit nation to the Schengen zone, free of border controls, joined the other EU member countries that share land borders with Russia and that had already prohibited the entry of tourists. Russians.

The bans are part of a series of sanctions and other measures taken against Russia by the West since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what it calls a “special military operation.”

Estonia, which like other Baltic states and Poland, had argued that Russian tourists posed a threat to national security and had expressed frustration that Finland had not joined them. Ukraine has said that the Russians should stay home and try to stop the war.

The EU has banned all flights from Russia, leaving only rail and road transport links, and this month agreed to limit the issuance of visas for free movement in the Schengen area.

Young Russians who spoke to Reuters after crossing into Finland last week said they left out of fear of being recruited.

The nearly 17,000 Russians who crossed the border into Finland over the weekend represent an 80% increase from the previous week, Finnish authorities said on Monday.

There was a steady stream of cars at the Vaalimaa border crossing on Thursday, according to a Reuters witness, although traffic had calmed down a bit after the weekend.

“We have indications that the Russian authorities have changed their policy,” border control chief Tuomas Laosmaa said, adding that the number of young Russians passing through had decreased on Wednesday. He did not give more details.

Although the number of arrivals from Russia remains below pre-pandemic levels, many Finns have raised concerns about the recent increase.

“It is very unfortunate that we are in a situation caused by Russia, but in this situation it does not seem right to me that they go through Finland for tourism,” said Erkki Helaniemi, a finance specialist who spoke to Reuters in the capital Helsinki.

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