Finland has started building a 124-mile fence on its border with Russia. It’s going to be covered in barbed wire and span ‘riskier areas’ between the countries, Finland says.

A border guard officer walks along a fence marking the boundary area between Finland and Russia.

A border guard officer walks along a fence marking the boundary area between Finland and Russia.Alessandro RAMPAZZO / AFP

  • Finland has started building a 10-foot-tall barbed-wire fence along parts of its border with Russia.

  • The 124-mile-long fence will cover one-seventh of its 832-mile-long border with Russia.

  • The construction started after a marked surge in Russians fleeing the country amid the Ukraine war.

Finland has started building a 10-foot-tall barbed-wire fence on its land border to firmly separate itself from its neighbor, Russia.

Finland kicked off construction of the fence on Tuesday with a section that will start in the southeastern Finnish town of Imatra, per a statement by the Finnish Border Guard.

An initial 1.8-mile stretch of fence will be completed in June 2023. The rest of the 124-mile fence is slated for completion in 2026. At its full length, the fence will cover one-seventh of the 832-mile border between Russia and Finland, the Finnish Border Guard said on its website.

Building the fence is expected to cost Finland $393 million, per the Associated Press.

In a statement in September, the Finnish Border Guard said the fence will not cover the entire border, but will span “riskier areas” like border crossings and the areas around them.

Some parts of the Finnish-Russian border are now demarcated only by wooden posts or low fences meant to stop stray cattle, the AP reported.

In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin started drafting soldiers to fight in the Ukraine war, prompting a mass exodus of thousands of Russians.¬†Between 15,000 and 20,000 Russians fled to Finland on the weekend of September 24, following the announcement of Putin’s draft, local Finnish media outlet Yleisradio Oy reported, citing Matti Pitk√§niitty, the head of international affairs at the Finland Border Guard.

Reuters reported that 17,000 Russians made the crossing that weekend, citing information from the Finnish authorities. This was an 80% increase from the weekend before it.

The Finnish Border Guard then imposed restrictions on the entry of Russian citizens to curb the surge. Russian tourists were banned from entering Finland on September 30, the AP reported.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in October that the fence is not only being built for symbolic reasons, Yleisradio Oy reported. Marin said that month that the border fence will prevent a wave of illegal migrants crossing from Russia into Finland, the AP reported.

The start of the fence-building project comes amid Finland’s rush to join NATO, a move that stands to end its wartime neutrality in Europe. On Wednesday, members of Finland’s Parliament approved the country’s NATO bid.

Any country joining NATO requires the unanimous vote of all NATO members. Two countries, Turkey and Hungary, are holding out on approving Finland’s bid.

Representatives of the Finnish Border Guard directed Insider to statements on their website when asked to respond to queries about the border fence.

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