Finland closes borders to Russian tourists

The Finnish government on Thursday announced that it would ban Russians from entering the country as tourists, a long-discussed move to close the final land route into the European Union to those fugitives Kremlin’s military mobilization efforts.

The closure took effect at midnight on Friday, the Finnish government announced.

Finland is a member of the Schengen area, allowing free travel within 26 countries in Europe. About 80 percent of Russians enter Finland on tourist visas continuing from Finland to other countries.

Finland has signaled that it aims to further restrict Russian travel and travel through its territory, citing concerns about security risks as border traffic increases after the Kremlin announced this month that they would summon more troops.

The number of Russians arriving in Finland has been declining since peaking over the weekend. On Tuesday, 7,052 Russians entered the country, double the number who returned to Russia, according to government data. The number of arrivals dropped to 4,707 on Wednesday.

Russia’s Baltic neighbors and Poland banned Russians from entering their countries earlier this month, making Finland the only European Union country with a land border with Russia that allows Russian nationals to cross. back as a tourist. This month, Finland cut the number of tourist visas it grants to Russians by 90%, to just 100 a day.

“Our government’s position is very clear: Travel and transit through Finland must stop,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin told reporters last week.

Living in the shadow of a large and powerful neighbor long established Finland’s foreign policy, and Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine prompted rapid changes. In June, NATO leaders formally invited Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance, as both Nordic nations abandoned decades of military neutrality and non-alignment in order to strengthen the alliance. their security.

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