The number of Russians crossing the Finnish border “increased” overnight. Vladimir Putinthe dramatic announcement that Moscow would begin military mobilization for war l Ukraineofficials at Helskini said.
Finnish Border Guard’s head of international affairs, Matti Pitkaniitty, said Reuters that 4,824 Russians arrived Finland across the eastern border on Wednesday, compared with 3,133 on the same day a week earlier.
“Traffic on the Finnish-Russian border increased during the night,” Pitkaniitty said. “The number has clearly increased.”
On Thursday morning, traffic at the Vaalimaa border crossing – one of nine z Russia – it was about 400 meters long.
Finland, which has the European Union’s longest border with Russia – 1,300 km (807 miles) – has decided to keep the border open, although it has reduced the number of consular appointments available to Russian travelers seeking visas.
Finnish land crossings are among the few entry points into Europe for ordinary Russians after many Western countries closed their borders and airspace to aircraft in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen said Helsinki was closely monitoring the situation.
Finland is one of the European countries in the Schengen area of open borders. Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Helsinki was working to get the numbers “under control”.
“Finland does not want to be a transit country for Schengen visas issued by other countries. This is the traffic we want to control.
“The fear is that we will be the only border country through which it is possible to get from Russia to Europe with Schengen visas issued by other countries.”
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, other EU countries bordering Russian territory, began turning Russian citizens away from crossings at midnight on Monday, saying they could not travel while their country was at war with Ukraine.
The three Baltic states will not offer any refuge to Russians fleeing the mobilization of troops in Moscow, their ministers said.
Putin on Wednesday announced the mobilization of an expected 300,000 reservists into the Russian army following Moscow’s military setbacks in Ukraine in recent weeks.
The news prompted many Russians to leave the country immediately, and there were also reports of people fleeing to visa-free destinations including Turkey and Georgia.
Despite sanctions that prevent or make it difficult for Russians to travel to many Western countries, they can travel without visas to almost 90 countries.
Air fares from Moscow have soared above the equivalent of £3,000 for one-way trips to the nearest foreign locations, with most flights for the coming days completely sold out.
Social media groups gave advice on how to get out of Russia, while one news site gave a list of “where to escape from Russia now”.
“War is terrible,” said Sergei, a Russian who declined to give his last name. Reuters when he arrived in Belgrade, the Serbian capital. “It’s okay to be afraid of war and death and things like that.”
Another Russian in Istanbul. One Russian said he left Russia partly because of the mobilization.
“Partial mobilization is one of the reasons I’m here,” he said. “This seems to be a very bad step and could cause a lot of problems for many Russians.”
However, the Kremlin said there was a lot of “misinformation” about people leaving Russia.
“Information about excitement at airports and so on is greatly exaggerated,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“There is a lot of false information about this. We must be very careful not to fall victim to false information about this matter.”