Finland announced it would ban Russian citizens on tourist visas from entering the country from Friday, restricting one of the last easy routes into Europe for Russians trying to flee a military mobilization aimed at strengthen the Kremlin war in Ukraine. .
With the exception of Norway, which has only one border crossing with Russia, Finland has provided the last easily accessible land route to Europe for Russian holders of European visas from the Schengen zone.
"In principle, the decision is aimed at completely preventing Russian tourism to Finland and related transit through Finland," Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said during a news conference on Thursday.
The government justified its decision by saying that the continued influx of Russian tourists to Finland is endangering the country's international relations, citing security concerns related to Russia's war in Ukraine, Russian-organized "illegal" referendums in parts of Ukraine and the recent sabotage in the North. Transmit gas pipelines from Russia under the Baltic Sea.
Russian citizens can still enter Finland, which shares a 1,340-kilometre (830-mile) land border with Russia, for family, study or work reasons. Additionally, Russian political dissidents may attempt to enter for humanitarian purposes.
As of September 1, Finland sharply reduced the number of visas, including for tourist purposes, issued to Russian citizens to a tenth of the typical number, in a show of solidarity with Ukraine.
Haavisto had previously said he was particularly concerned about Russian tourists flying through Helsinki airport to other European nations to circumvent flight bans imposed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.