Finland intends to open main checkpoints on the border with Russia

The Finnish government intends to open several checkpoints on the Russian border near St. Petersburg. The checkpoints were closed in November due to an influx of refugees.

According to sources of the Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat, it is a question of possible opening of Valimaa, Nuijamaa and Imatra checkpoints. On the Russian side there are respectively the checkpoints Torfyanovka, Brusnichnoye and Svetogorsk. The main flow of vehicles traveling from Russia to Finland and back passed through them.

According to Finnish sources, no official decision has been made yet. The issue is still being discussed by the government. In case of a positive decision, it will have to come into force on Wednesday night.

Earlier, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said that the government would decide whether to open the crossings or extend the closed regime no later than December 13. According to Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen, Finland has a desire to gradually open checkpoints on the border “if Russia is ready to return to normalcy”. Valtonen said the situation on the eastern border remains calm, although “there are still people trying to get into Finland”.

The Finnish government has closed four of the nine checkpoints on the border with Russia since Nov. 18. The decision was made due to the growing number of illegal migrants coming from Russian territory. Since September, about 300 citizens of Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Syria and other countries have arrived at Finnish checkpoints. They asked for asylum. Earlier Russian border guards did not allow people without documents authorizing entry into the country to the Finnish border, but since the end of October they stopped preventing them. In November, people on bicycles were no longer allowed across the Russian-Finnish border because of illegal migrants. Such a ban was introduced at the road checkpoints of Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa and Imatra, and since November 15 it has been in force at all nine checkpoints.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö linked Russia’s decision to allow migrants to the border to the defense cooperation agreement between Helsinki and Washington. He also called to prepare for “nasty things” from Russia after the country joins NATO.

As a result of the checkpoint closure, cargo traffic between Russia and Finland will virtually cease, Olli-Pekka Penttilä, head of statistics at Finland’s customs office, said earlier. According to him, cargoes continue to go through the railroad checkpoint Vainikkala.

Earlier Finland banned cars with Russian license plates from entering its territory as part of the EU sanctions against Russia. The only remaining legal way to cross the Finnish border is to travel by bus. But only those Russians who have relatives with Finnish residence permits or citizenship, as well as those who work or study in Finland, can obtain a visa.

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