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Finns have a plan for Russian draft dodgers: Build a fence

Finland’s border force wants to build a fence.

In a report, the Finnish Border Guard recommended a physical barrier be built on part of the country’s border with Russia due to “recent changes in the security environment,” local media reported Monday.

Finland has seen a massive uptick in Russians legally crossing the border over the past days, with conscription-aged men seeking to avoid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “partial” mobilization announced last Wednesday in response to his faltering war on Ukraine. Some 17,000 Russians crossed the border into Finland last weekend, 80 percent more than the previous one, Reuters reported.

The proposed fence would cover 10 to 20 percent of Finland’s eastern border, or 130 to 260 kilometers, Border Guard chief Pasi Kostamovaara told the Finnish press. It would cost hundred of millions of euros. Most of it would be built on the southeastern part of the border, where’s there’s more activity.

For now, illegal crossings are not a “widespread phenomenon,” the Border Guard’s head of international cooperation Matti Pitkäniitty told local reporters. But restrictions on crossing the border, whether from the Russian or from the Finnish side, might change the situation. Finland cut the number of tourist visas issued to Russians by 90 percent since early September.

But the fence is unlikely to change anything in the short term — the government must still discuss and green-light it, and it will take two to three years to build, Border Guard boss Kostamovaara said.

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