(Bloomberg) -- Officials guarding Finland’s 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) border with Russia are calling for a fence to help prevent potential uncontrolled mass-scale entry from the east.
Finland should build as much as 260 kilometers of fence in the riskiest spots along the demarcation, the Border Guard said in a press release Wednesday. A physical barrier is “necessary” to slow and control any crowds, it said. Finland’s government is ready to back a pilot project to assess what it takes to build such a fence, Interior Minister Krista Mikkonen told reporters.
Deciding to go ahead with the plans would see Finland join peers such as Lithuania, Latvia and Poland in setting up barriers along their eastern borders. The Nordic country has cut off trade with Russia and sought entry into the NATO defense alliance following Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine earlier this year. It’s recently cut the number of visas granted to Russian tourists and is planning to restrict their entry even further, after the three Baltic countries and Poland already moved to do so.
Finland already has relatively recent experience of mass entry from the east. In the winter of 2015 and 2016, scores of Asian and Middle Eastern asylum seekers suddenly began crossing the border in remote Arctic areas from Russia, with officials eventually concluding the move was probably part of a hybrid attack masterminded in Moscow.
The fence could cost “hundreds of millions of euros” with a final decision on the funding resting with the government. Construction would take three to four years to complete, and works would include technical surveillance and road construction in addition to the fence.
(Adds comment from interior minister in second paragraph.)
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