The Finnish government announced Thursday that it would ban the entry of Russians as tourists, a long-discussed measure that closes the last land route to the European Union for people fleeing the Kremlin’s military mobilization effort.
The closure takes effect at midnight on Friday, the Finnish government announced.
Finland is a member of the Schengen area, which allows free travel within 26 countries in Europe. About 80 percent of the Russians who enter Finland on tourist visas continue from Finland to other countries.
Finland has been signaling that it aims to further restrict Russian tourism and travel through its territory, citing concerns about security risks as border crossings rise following the Kremlin’s announcement this month that it would call in more troops. .
The number of Russians entering Finland has decreased since peaking over the weekend. On Tuesday, 7,052 Russians entered the country, double the number who returned to Russia, according to government figures. The number of arrivals fell to 4,707 on Wednesday.
Russia’s Baltic neighbors and Poland banned Russians from crossing into their countries by land earlier this month, leaving Finland the only European Union nation with a land border with Russia that allowed Russian citizens to cross as tourists. Finland had already this month reduced the number of tourist visas it issues to Russians by 90 percent, to just 100 per day.
“Our government’s opinion is clear: tourism and transit through Finland must end,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin told reporters last week.
Living in the shadow of a large and powerful neighbor has long shaped Finland’s foreign policy, and Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has brought swift change. In June, NATO leaders formally invited Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance, as both Nordic nations abandoned decades of neutrality and military non-alignment to bolster their security.