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Finland begins construction of barriers along frontier with Russia, border agency says

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Finland has begun construction of barrier fences on its eastern border with Russia. 

The Finnish Border Guard said in a statement that the pilot phase of the eastern border barrier fence project began on Tuesday.

“In Pelkola, the construction of a pilot fence of approximately three kilometres has started on both sides of the Imatra border crossing point,” according to the statement.
“Work on the terrain begins on 28 February 2023 with forest clearance and will proceed in such a way that road construction and fence installation can be started in March, followed by the construction of a technical surveillance system. The pilot is expected to be completed by the end of June.”

The project, launched at the end of 2022, includes plans to build a 130 to 260-kilometer (80 to 161 miles) fence along the country’s 1,300-kilometer eastern border. 

Remember: The Finnish border was one of the few entry points for Russians after many Western countries shut their airspace and borders to Russian planes in response to the Ukraine invasion. Helsinki closed its border at the end of September 2022, around the time traffic over the frontier intensified as Russians tried to flee President Vladimir Putin’s “partial mobilization” of hundreds of thousands of citizens to fight in the war. More than 8,500 Russians crossed the border in one day alone.

In an earlier statement, the Finnish Border Guard said the fence would not be built along the entire length of the border but instead would focus on border crossing points and other riskier areas.

Funding has been granted for the project’s pilot phase, as well as the implementation of the most important target areas, which are set to be constructed between 2023 and 2025.

CNN’s James Frater and Xiaofei Xu contributed reporting to this post.

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