Finland is building a 124-mile fence on its border with Russia

  • Finland has started building a 10-foot barbed wire fence along parts of its border with Russia.
  • The 124-mile fence will cover one-seventh of its 832-mile border with Russia.
  • Construction began after a significant surge in the number of Russians fleeing the country during the Ukraine War.

Finland has begun building a 10-foot-tall barbed wire fence on its land border to firmly separate itself from its neighbor Russia.

Finland on Tuesday started construction of the fence with a section that will start in the southeastern Finnish city of Imatra, according to a statement by the Finnish Border Guard.

A first 1.8 mile stretch of the fence will be completed in June 2023. The remainder of the 124-mile fence is scheduled to be completed in 2026. In its full length, the fence will cover one-seventh of the 832-mile border between Russia and Finland, the Finnish Border Guard said on its website.

The fence is expected to cost Finland $393 million to build, according to the Associated Press.

In a statement in September, Finland’s Border Guard said the fence will not cover the entire border but will include “higher risk areas” such as border crossings and the areas around them.

Some parts of the Finnish-Russian border are now demarcated only by wooden stakes or low fences designed to deter stray cattle, the AP reported.

In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin began recruiting soldiers for the war in Ukraine, leading to a mass exodus of thousands of Russians. Between 15,000 and 20,000 Russians fled to Finland over the weekend of September 24 after the announcement of Putin’s draft, local Finnish media outlet Yleisradio Oy reported, citing Matti Pitk√§niitty, the head of international affairs at the Finnish border guard.

Reuters, citing information from Finnish authorities, reported that 17,000 Russians made the crossing this weekend. That was an 80% increase over the weekend before.

The Finnish border guard then imposed restrictions on the entry of Russian citizens to curb the increase. Russian tourists were banned from entering Finland on September 30, the AP reported.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in October that the fence would not be built for symbolic reasons only, Yleisradio Oy reported. Marin said this month that the border fence will prevent a wave of illegal migrants from Russia to Finland, the AP reported.

The start of the fence construction project comes amid Finland’s rush to join NATO, a move that will end its war neutrality in Europe. On Wednesday, members of Finland’s parliament approved the country’s NATO bid.

Any country joining NATO requires the unanimous vote of all NATO members. Two countries, Turkey and Hungary, are reluctant to approve Finland’s offer.

Finnish Border Guard officials referred insiders to statements on their website when asked to respond to questions about the border fence.

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