Monday, December 5

Finland agrees to erect a concertina fence on its border with Russia

The Finnish government has won the support of all political parties to build a metal fence on the most vulnerable sections of its border with Russia, with the aim of curbing irregular immigration.

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The measure, initially proposed by the Finnish Border Guard, was supported by all the parliamentary groups during a consultative meeting that the Executive held on Tuesday afternoon with the leaders of the rest of the political parties.

“It’s about being able to make sure that the border is well guarded and being able to anticipate what might happen on it,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told reporters.

The project, the details of which have yet to be finalized, includes the construction of a metal fence several meters high with concertinas on its upper part and video surveillance cameras on the border sections considered to be “higher risk.”

Altogether, the fence will have a total extension of between 130 and 260 kilometers, which represents between 10 and 20% of the 1,340 kilometers of border that separate Finland and Russia.

The works are expected to last about four years and involve an outlay of “several hundred million euros”, according to border guard estimates. Initially, a test section of about three kilometers will be built on the Finnish southeast border, the busiest due to its proximity to Saint Petersburg, at a cost of about six million euros.

legal reforms

Finland, which has the longest border with Russia in the European Union (EU) and the second in Europe (after Ukraine), thus responds to the increase in tensions with Moscow as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the process Finnish and Swedish accession to NATO.

The Kremlin has repeatedly warned Helsinki that its entry into the Atlantic Alliance will have serious consequences, which is why the Finnish government fears that Russia could orchestrate a migration crisis similar to the one that took place on the border between Poland and Belarus at the end of 2021 .

For this reason, the Finnish Executive approved last July as a matter of urgency a series of legal reforms that will allow it to deal with a possible massive arrival of immigrants at its border. These amendments include a legal provision to allow the construction of fences and other types of barriers on the border to increase “national security”.

They also include the possibility of temporarily prohibiting the right to stay and move in areas close to the border in exceptional circumstances, for example in the event of a massive influx of immigrants.

Likewise, it makes it possible to centralize the reception of asylum applications at certain points along the border, which would mean closing the rest of the border crossings to refugees.