The improvements are planned for critical areas, says a senior border official
Finland wants a stronger fence at the border with Russia, says Colonel Marko Turunen, commander of the North Karelian border guard, to the media. The news comes in the middle of the conflict between Moscow and the west over Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.
Turunen told MTV3 that officials are analyzing the condition of the border fence, but the final decision to strengthen it has not yet been made and no real work has been done so far.
– If such a decision is made, we will proceed in a controlled and planned way, Turunen said on Saturday.
Russia and Finland share a land border of 1,343 km (834 km). According to MTV3, the Finnish side is only protected “by a thin and rusty barbed wire fence.”
Turunen said a stronger fence is planned for high-risk areas and critical areas, including border crossings and nearby areas. He declined to reveal the details of the estimated length of the planned reinforced fence and its construction.
Interior Minister Krista Mikkonen told MTV3 that “Finland’s capacity to maintain border security must be strengthened, and its crisis preparedness must be improved.”
Riikka Purra, Member of Parliament and head of the right-wing Finnspartiet party, supported the idea. “Of course, construction is always expensive, but nothing is as valuable as our security,” she told the channel.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine at the end of February led to discussions on whether Finland and Sweden should reconsider their long-standing policy of military freedom of alliance and join NATO. In a report submitted to parliament last month, the Finnish government claimed that joining the US-led bloc would “improve the stability of the region in the long run”, but could also result in “increased tensions” along the border with Russia.
Moscow has repeatedly said that it sees the bloc’s expansion to the east as a threat to national security. Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev, who is now vice chairman of the country’s security council, warned that Moscow will deploy additional troops on its western flank if Finland or Sweden join NATO.
Russia attacked Ukraine after Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, which were first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s final recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French mediated protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions a special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kyiv insists that the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims that it planned to retake the two republics by force.