Finland's PM Sanna Marin signals growing cross-party support for Russia border fence

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By Euronews  with AP
Russian cars and buses line up at the Vaalimaa border check point between Finland and Russia in Virolahti, Finland, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.
Russian cars and buses line up at the Vaalimaa border check point between Finland and Russia in Virolahti, Finland, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.   -   Copyright  Credit: AP

Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin said Tuesday there is growing cross-party support to build a fence on the Nordic country’s border with Russia as proposed by the Finnish border guard officials.

The proposal has gained traction since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Helsinki is concerned over possible large-scale and illegal cross-border migration. Many Russians have fled the country after Moscow's call for partial mobilisation of more troops in Ukraine back in September.

“It is a question of securing proper surveillance of Finland’s (eastern) border in the future,” Marin told reporters at the legislature before a meeting with parliamentary groups on the border fence issue.

"We want to ensure that we have sufficient support for our border guard force to carry out effective and appropriate border control. In addition, we need to be prepared for any disruptive situations," she added.

The Finnish Border Guard had earlier suggested covering parts of the 1,340-kilometre border Finland shares with Russia, the longest of any European Union member, to help in preventing possible large-scale and illegal migration — a concern that has grown in Helsinki amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In July, the Finnish parliament amended its laws, to strengthen the fences along the country's border with Russia, as the Nordic nation continues the process of joining NATO.

Based on a risk analysis by border officials, the fence would be between 130-260 kilometres long in total and cover areas that have been identified as potential risks for large-scale migration from Russia.

The main parts of the fence would be erected in southeastern Finland, where most border traffic to and from Russia takes place, but some sections are likely to be built also around border stations in the north.

The construction of the fence would take up to four years and is expected to cost several hundreds of millions of euros in total, according to Finnish news agency STT.

A pilot section of the fence running the length of around three kilometres will be decided on soon and built quickly, but the decision of the entire fence project may be postponed to the next government as Finland holds a general election in April 2023.

Video editor • Mario Bowden