Finland, one of the few NATO countries that borders Russia, has announced a proposal to spend 139 million euros ($143 million) on building fences on its eastern border with Russia in 2023, the Finnish border guard said Friday.
“In the assessment of the Finnish Border Guard, the changing security environment has made it necessary to build a barrier wall along part of the eastern border,” the border guard said in a statement.
If Russia reduces control over its borders, this could cause additional pressure on the Finnish side to control illegal entry. “Finland cannot count on the effectiveness of Russian border controls,” the statement said.
The planned border fence will span 130 to 260 kilometers (80 to 161 miles) — just part of the 830-mile border it shares with Russia — and will come with monitoring equipment and a road patrol too.
This fence is expected to take three to four years to build and could last for about 50 years, according to the Finnish Border Guard.
A pilot section will be built at Imatra from spring 2023.
Helsinki has placed increasing restrictions on crossings on the eastern border it shares with Russia.
The Finnish border was one of the few entry points for the Russians after many Western countries closed their airspace and borders to Russian aircraft in response to the Ukrainian invasion.
It closed its borders to Russia at the end of September, just as traffic on the land border between Finland and Russia intensified when Russians tried to flee Vladimir Putin’s “partial mobilization” of hundreds of thousands of citizens to fight in the war.
“The government considers that Russia’s mobilization and the rapidly increasing volume of tourists arriving in Finland and transiting through Finland endanger Finland’s international status and international relations,” the Finnish Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement at the time.
It said that while “the decision aims to completely halt tourism and related transit from Russia,” it “will not prevent travel when it is deemed necessary for humanitarian reasons, national interests, or to fulfill Finland’s international obligations.”
According to a November press release from the Finnish Border Guard, “the number of entries decreased significantly after the restrictions went into effect.”
On September 29, about 8,583 Russian citizens crossed the eastern border of Finland from Russia. That number dropped to 1,700 when border restrictions began on Sept. 30, according to the Border Patrol count.
on Friday, The proposed separation wall is “much more than just a fence. It is a whole new border infrastructure and a new approach to border control,” Matti Pätkanetti, head of international affairs for the Finnish Border Guard, said on Twitter.