Finland will start building fences on its eastern border with Russia next year as the country has been beefing up its security since Russia launched a war on neighboring Ukraine this February, the Finnish Border Guard said Friday.
The Nordic country’s border with Russia has a length of 1,300 kilometers (808 miles), the longest of any European Union member. In 1939, the then-Soviet Union invaded Finland with its much larger military, resulting in territorial concessions to the USSR after a three-month conflict.
Finland is set to spend €139 million ($143 million) for the planned border fence, which will cover the construction of approximately 70 km (44 mi) of the barrier fence.
“52 km (32 mi) of this will be in Southeast Finland, 8 km (5 mi) in North Karelia, and 5 km (3.1 mi) in both Kainuu and Lapland. Construction will take place in 2023-2024,” said a Finnish Border Guard statement.
A pilot fence, set to be built in spring 2023, will test implementation of the project by building a fence of nearly 3 km (1.9 mi) on both sides of the Pelkola border crossing point in Imatra, with later expansion to a maximum of 200 km (124 mi).
“Once completed, the barrier fence at the eastern border will provide significant added value for border surveillance and will be very important for the management of situations and operational efficiency,” said Col. Vesa Blomqvist, commander of the Southeast Finland Border Guard District.
In addition to beefing up its border, Finland has also applied for NATO membership, with approval pending from Türkiye, which wants reassurances Finland with support its fight with a number of terrorist groups, including the YPG/PKK.