NewsRussia's actions spur Finland to erect additional border barriers

Russia's actions spur Finland to erect additional border barriers

The border post is in Vartius
The border post is in Vartius
Images source: © East News | IMAGO/Hannu Huttu
ed. WJR

5:56 PM EST, November 19, 2023

Additional protective barriers are being set up in Vartius, Finland - currently the southernmost open crossing on the border with Russia. The construction started on Sunday, assisted by heavy military equipment, excavators and lifts. The aim is to secure the border station against an uncontrolled influx of immigrants.

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The border guard has reported that the situation on the northern section of the border is currently calm, as the southern section is completely closed. However, intelligence indicates a likelihood of an increase in immigrants from the Russian side.

Commander of the Kuhmo-Vartius unit, Jouko Kinnunen, quoted by the STT agency, explained, "Additional temporary structures in the field will aid in the safe functioning of the crossing." Police reinforcements have also been called in from Oulu, roughly 248.5 miles away.

Immigrants arrive on bikes and scooters

About 70 asylum seekers from either the Middle East or North Africa arrived at the crossing on Saturday. They braved winter conditions, journeying on bicycles and scooters for the final short stretch of their journey. The border guards reported that these immigrants were previously transported to the other side via various means such as buses or "taxis".

Some of the immigrants seemed as if they were crossing the border unwillingly. "Russians push them out, then close the barrier, making a return to the Russian side impossible," admitted Kinnunen.

The Finnish guard occasionally needs to close the crossing to traffic during the day due to these practices on the Russian side. On Sunday, by noon, only two migrants had made it to the Finnish border station.

North remains calm

The Kuhmo-Vartius border station is situated approximately 310.7 to 434.9 miles north of the four main crossings on the eastern border in Karelia, which were closed on Saturday. Due to this, traffic headed toward Petersburg and Moscow is detoured and may bring about 3 to 4 times more travelers than usual to Vartius - that is, roughly a thousand per day.

Other remaining open crossings in the north, like in Lapland, are currently tranquil. There are no signs of migrants moving in that direction.

Over 1300 border guards are involved in securing the lengthy eastern border, which spans over 833 miles.

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