Since November 9, the border commissioner of Southeast Finland has restricted bicycle crossings through the border points of international vehicle traffic in Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, and Imatra in order to support border security,
In a statement issued yesterday, November 13, the Border Guard of Southeast Finland said that previously, taking into account the traffic of cars, the Border Guard has facilitated border crossings by bicycles, thanks to an agreement between the border commissioners.
In contrast to walking, cycling across the border was a new option, mainly aimed at enabling residents of the border region to embark on short day trips to the neighbouring country.
This shift, however, has led to a challenge as individuals from Russia are illegally entering Finland on bicycles without the necessary travel documents for the Schengen area.
In response to the latest EU sanctions, in September this year, the Russian embassy in Helsinki warned its citizens not to travel to the EU in vehicles with Russian license plates, as they could be confiscated.
Following these EU sanctions, Russian citizens are prohibited from bringing any vehicle into the block, regardless of their intended use. In addition, the ban includes vehicles with Russian number plates and those registered in Russia, regardless of their length of stay in the EU.
During the same month, the Border Guard arrested a Russian national who was also suspected of various offences such as forgery, possession of counterfeit material, a minor firearms offence, and a violation of detection device regulations.
On the same day, the guard reported an unauthorised border crossing from Russia to Finland in the Joutseno region.
Last month, the Finnish Ministry of the Interior also initiated a new initiative to evaluate the need for adjustments to the Border Guard’s authority within the internal border of the Schengen Area.
In this regard, the same also noted that this project aims to enhance border security and ascertain whether the Finnish Border Guard’s authority aligns with that of other EU member states.
According to the Ministry, the project is expected to examine the powers granted to internal border authorities in other EU member states, assessing the feasibility and appropriateness of extending similar capabilities within the Finnish legal framework.
Moreover, in response to the arrival of 91 individuals recently with irregular travel documents at border crossing points in Southeast Finland since August 2023, the Border Guard has emphasised the urgent need to address visa-related issues, particularly for those using Russia as a transit route from third countries.