Finland says no to Russian tourism, Source: Depositphotos

Nord Stream sabotage: breaking point for Finland to stop issuing visas to Russians

Nord Stream sabotage: breaking point for Finland to stop issuing visas to Russians

This was the last EU border country that still allowed citizens of Russia to apply for Schengen visas

The boiling political debate, on whether to suspend visa issuing to Russians, that had taken over Finland over the last few weeks has finally reached a conclusion – starting Friday, 30 September, the country will end tourism from its eastern neighbour.

The decision was quite swift despite the protracted debates preceding it, and it comes in light of three critical events from this week: the incidents that caused the Nord Stream pipelines to leak gas into the Baltic Sea, the crowding at the Finnish border by Russians trying to escape mobilization and the referendums in Ukrainian Russian-occupied territories.

The Finnish authorities, however, claim that the decision was not motivated by security concerns. Nevertheless, as Yle reports, Pekka Haavisto, the Foreign Minister, said that the decision was sped up by damage to the Nord Stream pipelines and the sham elections in Russian-held territories of Ukraine.

What’s happening at the Russian-Finnish border?

One week ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced partial mobilization in his country in order to stave off the losses experienced by his ill-fated invasion of Ukraine. The effect, however, was that it immediately sent throngs of military-age Russians and their families scramming for the borders, including Finland, which was the only EU country still letting in holders of Schengen visas and even issuing such permits.

During the first weekend after the draft announcement, some 17,000 Russians crossed into Finland. In the following days, however, the pressure on the border lessened, which is explained by the fact that Kremlin decided to install a mobilization checkpoint there.

The Finnish government justified its decision to suspend visas by saying that the continued arrival of Russian tourists to the country is endangering the country’s international relations.

Finland intends to begin granting visas on humanitarian grounds, but the rollout of those plans will take at least a few months, according to Haavisto.

Meanwhile, the country’s Interior Ministry noted that being targeted in Russia's conscript mobilization efforts is not a reason for automatically being granted protection in Finland, as such decisions are processed and reached on an individual basis.



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