Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have chosen to increase filters, while Finland will do so this week
The three Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – as well as Poland, had already closed their borders to Russian citizens, including those with a Schengen visa, three days before Vladimir Putin called for partial mobilization. Finland, until now reluctant to a general ban for Russian citizens, is preparing to adopt this regulation in the coming days, as the government of the Social Democrat Sanna Marin advanced on Friday.
If last Friday there had been an increase of 57% of Russian travelers to Finland, on Sunday long queues of vehicles began to be observed in the direction of the Nordic country. The situation is not one of chaos, according to Helsinki. Many of these travelers will return to Russia after visiting Finland and simply accelerated their plans to travel to the neighboring country to do their shopping – as usual – before the imminent closure.
The busiest passes are those in the southeast, near St. Petersburg. Until the invasion of Ukraine, they were already the ones that registered a more continuous flow of Russian travelers. Finland, with 1,340 kilometers of border with Russia, was until now the only country of the European Union (EU) bordering Russia that continued to accept the entry of Russians with a Schengen visa – that is, issued by any of the consulates or countries of that space-.
The Baltics, like Poland, also bordering Russian territory – including Kaliningrad – had chosen to shield themselves a week earlier. The entry of citizens is only admitted exceptionally, be it for humanitarian, family or work reasons.
The government of the ultra-nationalist Polish government party Law and Justice (PiS) has warned of the risks involved in providing asylum to deserters, as defended by neighboring Germany.
For Warsaw, welcoming anyone who claims to flee the mobilization ordered by Putin is a serious risk to the country’s security. There is a danger of infiltration by Kremlin agents, as well as of conflicts being generated with the millions of Ukrainian refugees hosted by the country or with other citizens of Russian origin established in Poland since before that war, sources from the Prime Minister’s Executive said. Mateusz Morawiecki.
These fears are shared by the Baltics, especially Estonia, where since the beginning of the invasion tensions have increased with the population of Russian origin -25% of the total in this country of 1.5 million inhabitants-. Both Poland and the Baltics, partners of the EU and NATO, have called for a reinforcement of the eastern flank of the Atlantic Alliance since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Finland, which has not yet completed the “express” process of joining NATO precipitated by the start of the Russian invasion, now joins the most restrictive line of those EU partners.
The government between social democrats, greens and German liberals, on the other hand, insists that it will welcome Russian deserters and dissidents as asylum seekers. This position is shared both by the Foreign Minister, the Green Annalena Baerbock, and by the Minister of the Interior, the Social Democrat Nancy Faeser.
Brussels tries to find a common line in the, once again, dissonant positions of one and the other partners. The Berlin cabinet admits that it “respects” the concern of countries with a land border with Russia. But remember that the right to asylum assists any persecuted person, from any country, “including, obviously, the Russians,” in the words of Baerbock.
The Ukrainian embassy in Berlin, which has been accusing Olaf Scholz’s government of a soft stance towards Moscow for months, has joined the Warsaw alerts and demands to shield itself from a flow of Russian deserters, fictitious or not. Germany has welcomed nearly a million Ukrainians to its territory since last February.
#European #northeast #flank #shields #border #Russians