Improvements are planned for critical areas, senior official discloses
Finland wants a stronger fence on its border with Russia, Colonel Marko Turunen, commander of the North Karelia Border Guard, told local media on Saturday. The news comes amid the standoff between Moscow and the West over Russia's military campaign in Ukraine.
Turunen told MTV3 that officials are analyzing the state of the border fence, but the final choice to strengthen it has not yet been made and no real work has been done so far.
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"If such a decision is taken, we will proceed in a controlled and planned manner," he stressed.
Russia and Finland share a land border of 1,343 km (834 miles). According to MTV3, on the Finnish side, it is only protected "by a thin, rusty barbed wire fence".
Turunen said a stronger barrier is planned for high-risk and critical areas, including border crossings and nearby areas. He declined to reveal details about the estimated length of the planned reinforcement and its construction.
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Interior Minister Krista Mikkonen told MTV3 that "Finland's ability to maintain border security must be strengthened and its crisis preparedness must be improved."
Riikka Purra, MP and leader of the right-wing Finnish Party, backed the idea. "Construction is, of course, always expensive, but nothing is as valuable as our safety," she told the outlet.
Russia's attack on Ukraine in late February sparked discussions about whether Finland and Sweden should reconsider their longstanding policy of military non-alignment and join NATO. In a report submitted to parliament last month, Finland's government argued that joining the US-led bloc would 'strengthen the region's long-term stability' but could also lead to 'increased tensions' on along the border with Russia.
The Kremlin has repeatedly said it views the organization's eastward expansion as a threat to national security. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is now deputy chairman of the country's Security Council, has warned that Moscow will deploy additional troops to its western flank if Finland or Sweden join NATO.
Russia attacked Ukraine after kyiv's failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow's eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The protocols negotiated by Germany and France were designed to give breakaway regions a special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it planned to retake the two republics by force.