The Finnish parliament amended its laws on Tuesday, to strengthen the fences along the country’s border with Russia, as the Nordic nation continues the process of joining NATO.
After Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, Finland decided to formalise it’s decades-long close partnership with NATO and apply to join the military alliance.
Motivated by concerns that Moscow will use migrants to pressure Helsinki, new amendments to Finland’s border guard law will make it easier to build stronger barriers along the 1,300-kilometre border Finland shares with Russia.
It’s the EU’s longest land border with Russia.
The aim of the new law is to “improve the border guard’s operational capacity to respond to hybrid threats,” said Anne Ihanus, an adviser in Finland’s interior ministry.
“The war in Ukraine has contributed to the urgency of the issue,” she said.
Currently, Finland’s border with Russia is only secured by light wooden fences, mainly installed to prevent cattle from grazing on the wrong side.
“What we want to build now is a solid fence with a real barrier effect,” said the head of the Finnish Border Guard‘s legal division, Sanna Palo.
“In all likelihood, the fence will not cover the entire eastern border, but will be concentrated in the places considered most important,” she explained.
In a scenario where the border is destabilised by the influx of refugees, which happened recently between Belarus and Poland, the new law will also allow for the closure of border crossings and the concentration of asylum seekers in specific locations.
Finland has also adopted amendments to its Emergency Powers Act to ensure that the definition of “emergency” better takes into account the different types of so-called hybrid threats.