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    The Russians closed the window to Europe // Tourists no longer have direct land routes to the EU

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    The borders between Russia and EU countries are now closed to tourists. Following Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland, Finland took such a step: Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto announced on Thursday that the Russian-Finnish border has been closed for the vast majority of tourist visa holders since Friday. The Russians, who until recently freely entered Finland, were seen as a threat to Helsinki’s international relations. having a tourist “Schengen” on hand. But on Friday night, everything changed. However, there is no question of a complete closure of the border: in fact, the regime that was in effect at the height of the pandemic is returning, and no one forbids entry back into the Russian Federation. Those who have close relatives living in Finland, or those Russians who go to study or work can also pass through ground checkpoints.

    On Thursday, the head of Finland’s Foreign Ministry Pekka Haavisto, Interior Minister Krista Mikkonen and Head of the Border Control Unit Tuomas Laosmaa.

    Mr. Haavisto announced last week that Helsinki was preparing measures to restrict the entry of Russians. “Finland does not want to be a transit country for Schengen visas issued by other states,” he explained then. “There are no moral or ethical grounds for Russian tourists to continue to go on vacation as if nothing had happened. We have repeatedly raised this issue in the EU.” On Thursday, Ms. Mikkonen explained that Russian tourism is damaging Finland’s international ties.

    In recent days, travelers who still had the opportunity to cross the Russian-Finnish border have noted a tense situation and many hours of queues at the checkpoint. During the week, several tens of thousands of Russians entered the country, but the Finnish side notes that all the same, we are talking about indicators that are lower than before the pandemic.

    Of all the EU states, Russia borders on Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Finland, and it was through these countries that the Russians tried for some time to get on trans-European flights or to other EU countries. However, on September 19, the Baltic states and Poland closed their borders to Russians. The Finnish authorities first announced that they would reduce the number of visas issued by ten times, and then tried to resolve the issue collectively, proposing that the European Commission take a unified decision on the annulment of visas or a ban on entry for Russians. It was not possible to agree on such a step at the EU level, but the Finns decided not to close the topic of restricting entry to neighbors. Moreover, it received wide public support – by Wednesday, a petition on the Kansalaisaloite (Civil Initiatives) website had garnered 50,000 signatures to ban the issuance of new visas to Russians and the annulment of already issued visas. After overcoming this formal barrier, the idea was to be discussed by the deputies of the Finnish Parliament, but the authorities were ahead of them. one of the few Western leaders who maintained constant contact with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. However, this year the situation has changed. In particular, the Finnish side terminated the contract with Rosatom for the construction of the Hanhikivi-1 nuclear power plant. The Finnish Foreign Ministry recommended that fellow citizens avoid any trips to Russia. In addition, contrary to the long-standing desire for neutrality, Finland, together with Sweden, applied for NATO membership.

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