Helsinki, Sep 25 (EFE).- Traffic across the border between Russia and Finland continued to grow on Sunday as thousands tried to flee the country following president Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilization of the Russian military.
The queue of cars at the Vaalimaa border crossing point in southeastern Finland, roughly a three hour drive from Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg, stretched some 500 meters long at 8 am Sunday morning, Finnish border officials reported.
On Saturday, 7,662 Russian citizens crossed the southeastern border, a 65% increase compared to a week ago, border authorities said.
The Finnish government announced Friday that it was preparing to tighten restrictions on the entry of Russian citizens, who will soon no longer be able to enter the country with a Schengen tourist visa.
Following Helsinki’s announcement, border crossings on Friday increased by 88% compared to the same day of the previous week.
“The government’s will is very clear, we believe Russian tourism (to Finland) must be stopped, as well as transit through Finland,” Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin told reporters.
The Kremlin announced a partial mobilization of the Russian military on Wednesday, prompting many young Russians to leave the country out of fear of being called to war.
The partial mobilization sparked a series of protests across Russian cities in which thousands of people have been detained by police.
Putin said he had signed the decree on the partial mobilization “to protect our motherland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
He added it was needed “to ensure the security of our people and people of the liberated territories,” referring to the mainly ethnic-Russian Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Defense minister Sergei Shoigu said in a subsequent address that 300,000 reservists will be mobilized in support of what the Kremlin calls the “special military operation” in Ukraine, which began February 24. EFE