Traffic on Finland-Russia border increasing

HELSINKI (Reuters): Traffic arriving at Finland’s eastern border with Russia has “intensified” during the night, the Finnish Border Guard said early on Thursday, while adding that the situation was under control.

Finland is closely monitoring the situation in its neighbor following President Vladimir Putin’s order of military mobilization, defense minister Antti Kaikkonen said on Wednesday.

“The number clearly has picked up,” the Finnish border guard’s head of international affairs Matti Pitkaniitty told Reuters.

“It is an exceptional number in the sense that it clearly is busier,” he said, adding that the situation was under control and border guards were ready at nine checkpoints.

Putin’s announcement, made in an early-morning television address on Wednesday, raised fears that some men of fighting age would not be allowed to leave the country and prompted one-way flights out of Russia to sell out fast.

Wednesday’s number of people crossing the border was, however, lower than during the weekend, according to Pitkaniitty.

He said 4,824 Russians arrived in Finland via the eastern border on Wednesday, up from the 3,133 a week earlier.

In northern Norway, there had been no changes in the number of Russians crossing into the Nordic country, a police official said.

“No changes,” Soelve Solheim, section leader for operational immigration control at Finnmark police, said.