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Finland Starts Building Fence on Parts of NATO’s Eastern Flank

Finland Starts Building Fence on Parts of NATO’s Eastern Flank
Officials attend a flag-raising ceremony for Finland's accession during a Nato foreign ministers' meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 4 April 2023. Finland becomes the 31st member of the alliance on 4 April. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Olivier Matthys / Pool)

Finland has kicked off a project to build a barrier to better protect its border with Russia, which now marks NATO’s new eastern flank. 

The Nordic country started construction of an initial 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) stretch of fence near a border crossing in the southeast, which it plans to conclude in June, the Border Guard said on Friday.

Finland joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization earlier this month after putting in an application that was triggered by Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor, Ukraine. In addition to gaining NATO’s Article 5 collective security guarantees, it has also increased defense spending and procurement of weapons and ammunition.

The project aims to improve surveillance and security, and follows in the footsteps of peers such as Lithuania, Latvia and Poland that are setting up barriers. The Finnish fence won’t span the entire 1,343-kilometer length of the demarcation, but instead the plan is to cover the riskiest spots, especially around crossing points, against targeted mass entry.

Should Finland face “instrumental or otherwise widespread illegal entry,” the fence under construction will be an “essential complement,” the Border Guard said. Part of the project will be to build pontoon roads out of concrete for crossing wetlands.


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