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Finland sees record surge in Russians crossing border amid Moscow military call-up

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Finland said on Monday it had recorded the year’s busiest weekend in terms of Russians entering the country, after Moscow’s military call-up announcement caused a rush for the border.

“Last weekend was the busiest weekend of the year for traffic on the eastern border,” Mert Sasioglu of the Finnish border guard told AFP.

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The border agency said nearly 8,600 Russians entered Finland via the land border on Saturday and nearly 4,200 crossed the other way.

On Sunday, more than 8,300 Russians arrived and nearly 5,100 left.

“The arrival rate is about double what it was a week ago,” Sasioglu said.

“The main reason is the mobilization but it is also partly explained by the fact that both Finland and Russia eased COVID-19 restrictions during the summer.”

The Nordic country announced on September 23 it planned to “significantly restrict the entry of Russian citizens” and would finalize the decision in the “coming days.”

While the restriction is not yet in force, the border guard service said it was ready to apply the new rules “within a day.”

Sasioglu said it was preparing for “difficult developments” as the situation evolved.

“It is possible that when travel is restricted, attempts at illegal border crossings will increase,” he explained.

On Saturday, border guards caught four individuals suspected of crossing the border illegally in the Kuusamo region of eastern Finland. They immediately applied for asylum when detained.

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