Finland will ban Russian citizens with Schengen tourist visas from entering the country, amid a spike in arrivals following the mobilization order.
“This decision is aimed at completely stopping the flow of Russians to Finland as well as transit through our country,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told a news conference today, adding that the partial mobilization order announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week “significantly” influenced Helsinki’s decision.
Holders of a Schengen visa are allowed to stay in the Schengen countries for a maximum of 90 days in each 180-day period. The new regulation will take effect from 0:00 on September 30. According to Haavisto, the move is expected to lead to a significant reduction in the number of people crossing the border. Entry to visit relatives, work and study will still be allowed.
The Finnish border force said earlier this week that the number of Russian citizens entering the country over the weekend spiked sharply, with nearly 8,600 Russians entering the land border on September 24 and nearly 4,200 via routes. other. By September 25, the number of people crossing the border on land was more than 8,300 and other routes were close to 5,100.
“The entry rate has doubled compared to a week ago. The main reason is the mobilization order, but partly because both Finland and Russia have relaxed the Covid-19 restrictions that were in place during the summer. “, said Mr. Mert Sasioglu of the Finnish border force.
According to Sasioglu, border guards are preparing for “difficult developments”. “It is possible that when travel is restricted, illegal border crossing attempts will increase,” the official said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that according to the partial mobilization order, the army plans to mobilize an additional 300,000 reservists to serve the military campaign in Ukraine, equivalent to more than 1% of the total mobilization potential of Russia. Russia is 25 million people.
Ukraine and the West criticized Russia’s move, calling it a “bad, wrong step” and a “disturbing escalation”. The Baltic states or the Czech Republic have announced that they are not granting asylum to Russians who want to avoid the mobilization order. Meanwhile, Germany announced that it is ready to receive these people.
Huyen Le (Theo AFP, Guardian)