Thousands of Russians have crossed the border into Finland since last Wednesday when Russian President Vladamir Putin announced that 300,000 people would be drafted to bolster the country's forces in Ukraine. Increased traffic has also been reported at the border with Georgia, as well as flights selling out, sending prices skyrocketing, as people look to leave the country.
While there had been a slight increase on Wednesday 21, straight after Putin’s announcement - rising from 3,133 the week before to 4,824 - the numbers were still lower than usual weekend traffic, and significantly lower than before the corona pandemic. From Thursday, however, Finland’s border guard noticed that gradually more Russians were starting to make the crossing.
According to the Finnish Border Guard’s official Twitter account, at around the same time, misleading information had started to circulate on social media, including a video of a 35km long queue that had been filmed a long time before. They encouraged travelers to only use reliable sources of information, adding that everything at the border was under control.
As our chart shows, peak figures were recorded on Saturday 24, with 8,572 Russians entering Finland and 4,199 entering Russia, marking the busiest weekend of the year so far. On Monday, the border guard’s official Twitter account confirmed: “Traffic is still busy, but reduced from the peak of the weekend. The majority of arrivals move on to other countries.”
While the uptick is largely being attributed to the conscription laws, a number of people are likely also holidaymakers as relaxed Covid restrictions on both sides of the border have increased travel, and will return again to Russia.
Finland announced on Friday that they have plans to restrict the entry of Russian citizens and are still hammering out the details. As of September 24, the number of Russians applying for asylum at the border had not yet increased.