At 0620 EST, Russian state-owned media reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Finnish Ambassador Helantera over “Anti-Russian” policies. It is important to note that Finland closed its land border with Russian in September 2022 and expelled two Russian diplomats over the invasion of Ukraine. In May, 2023, the Russian Federation terminated military base inspection agreements.
By 0620 Russian state-owned media reported that nine Finnish diplomats had been declared persona non grata and the Finnish Consulate was to be closed in St. Petersburg by October 1st, 2023. In response, the Finnish government announced:
“The non-essential travel of citizens of the Russian Federation to other countries via Finland endangers Finland’s international relations, especially with EU countries that have a land border with Russia, as well as with regard to Schengen cooperation. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland restricted the non-essential travel of citizens of the Russian Federation even before Finland’s decision in principle, because they assessed that this constituted a danger to their internal security.
The continuation of non-essential traffic of citizens of the Russian Federation via Finland to other parts of Europe may pose a danger to these for the security of the Schengen countries. Restrictions on entry to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are still in effect in the summer of 2023. It is still important to strive for a unified line with Russia’s Schengen and EU border neighbors at the same time as Finland pursues joint policies at the EU and Schengen level. Finland has the longest land border in the Schengen area with Russia. Finland has a special trust and expectation that the external border of the EU, the Schengen area and NATO will be maintained and that access to the Schengen area through it will be closely monitored.
This trust may be jeopardized if non-essential traffic of Russian citizens continues. The restriction of non-essential travel by Russian citizens is also related to Finland’s relations with Ukraine, which has asked Finland to limit non-essential travel by Russians. The continuation of traffic to other European countries through Finland also makes it possible to circumvent the Russian traffic restrictions set by the EU (Council Regulation (EU) No. 833/2014).”