Finland’s border with Russia has been closed to Russians with tourist visas, cutting off one of the last easily accessible routes to Europe for Russians trying to flee a military mobilisation aimed at bolstering the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.
Long queues were reported until midnight at the border crossings. Among the last to enter Finland were two cyclists who arrived a little before 11pm, Finnish broadcaster YLE reported from Vaalimaa, one of the main border crossings between the Nordic country and Russia.
Finland has the longest border with Russia of all European Union member countries.
With the exception of the one border crossing between Russia and Norway, Finland had provided the last easily accessible land route to Europe for Russian holders of European Schengen Zone visas.
The Finnish government justified its decision by saying that continued arrivals of Russian tourists in Finland is endangering the country’s international relations, and cited security concerns related to Russia’s war in Ukraine, the “illegal” referendums arranged by Russia in parts of Ukraine, and recent sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines from Russia under the Baltic Sea.
Russian citizens can still enter Finland for family reasons, study or work. Political dissidents may also seek to enter for humanitarian purposes.
As of September 1, Finland slashed the number of visas — including for tourism purposes — issued to Russian citizens to a 10th of the typical number, in a show of solidarity with Ukraine.