Storskog is now only land border to Europe open for Russian tourists
From midnight to Friday, Russians can no longer travel to, or transit through, Finland if the main purpose is tourism.
“The restriction will be valid until further notice,” Pekka Havvisto said at the press conference.
Finland’s decision comes as a response to Russia’s war on Ukraine, the illegal so-called referendums in Eastern Ukraine and the blowing up of North Stream I and II pipelines in the Baltic Sea.
Haavisto said Finland feared for its reputation in international relations if Russian tourists could continue to use the country as a transit gateway to other destinations in the Schengen area. All passenger flights between Europe and Russia were banned shortly after February 24. Two weeks ago, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland closed borders for Russians traveling with tourism as main purpose.
However, there are several exceptions. Individual considerations will be made at the border checkpoints. A Russian citizen traveling with a Schengen tourist visa will, for example, still be allowed in if the purpose is visiting family, heading to school, going on a business trip and similar reasons.
Truck drivers are also welcome to cross the border.
But for most travellers, Finland is now closed.
Finnish authorities inform that they over the last years have issued hundreds of thousands of visas to Russian citizens that are still valid.
Since Putin announced mobilization on September 21, more than 50,000 people have entered Finland via the land border, while 29,000 have exited the eastern checkpoints, figures from the Border Guards show.
Like Finland, Norway has also made priority in recent years to issue multi-entry visas valid from three to five years. This means that many people that got their Schengen visas before the pandemic still can enter at the Storskog checkpoint which is Schengen-Europe’s northernmost land border road with Russia.
Asked by the Barents Observer if Norway will follow Finland and ban most tourist visa holders to enter via Storskog, spokesperson with the Foreign Ministry, Ragnhild Håland Simenstad, said it would be for the Ministry of Justice to answer.
The Justice Ministry has not replied to questions on the issue.