HELSINKI — Finland intends to “significantly” restrict the entry of Russian citizens to its territory by denying entry to those who have received a tourist visa from any European country in the Schengen area.
The Nordic country, whose number of Russians on its land border has increased since Moscow announced the mobilization of reservists for the war in Ukraine, is in line with the decision made by Poland and the three Baltic countries Estonia at the beginning of September. Latvia and Lithuania), four other European Union countries bordering Russia.
Finland has the EU’s longest border with Russia, over 1,300 kilometers.
“After the government’s decision, it can come into effect very quickly,” Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said at a press conference on Friday, without giving an exact date.
“For tourism, border crossers are prevented from entering the country. There must be another reason for that,” he explained.
Finland’s new decision applies to both visas issued by Finland and visas issued by any other Schengen country, Finland’s diplomatic chief said.
Previously, Finland had decided to drastically reduce the number of visas it issues to Russians in its embassy and consulates in Russia, so that only a hundred visa slots per day are available instead of a thousand.
But Helsinki has so far not imposed any restrictions on Russians with tourist visas issued by other Schengen countries.
When other countries had cited security reasons for stopping Russian tourists at the border, Finland reached the same decision in a different way, citing “serious damage to Finland’s international position”.
Helsinki has been demanding a common European position on the matter for two months.
But Finland’s decision also coincides with the partial mobilization of reservists given by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
After the order, the number of Russians arriving in Finland has doubled, although according to the border guard it is still at a limited level. On Thursday, it exceeded 6,000, after it was around 3,000 at the beginning of the week.
The lifting of Covid restrictions from both Russia and Finland at the beginning of the summer led to a strong increase in the number of Russians arriving in Finland either at the border or via Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
Among them are many holidaymakers with European visas who use the country as a stopover to travel elsewhere in the European Union, sparking an often heated debate in the country that has prompted the government to approve tentative restrictions. – Euronews