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Tuesday's papers: Trains, planes and hockey players all flee Russia

The war in Ukraine continues to dominate the news in Finland.

Allegro-juna pysähtyneenä Vainikkalan rautatieasemalle matkalla Venäjälle. Junan kyljessä lukee "Allegro".
The Allegro train is one of the few connections left between Russia and the outside world. Image: Mikko Savolainen / Yle
Yle News

As Russia becomes increasingly isolated following the invasion of Ukraine, getting out of the country is a challenge. Flights have been blocked from many western countries, and the few that are still able to take off are now dramatically more expensive than they were even a few days ago.

That leaves trains to Finland as one of the few routes out of the country, and newspaper Helsingin Sanomat went (siirryt toiseen palveluun) to Helsinki Central Railway Station on Monday evening to meet one of the Allegro services arriving from Saint Petersburg.

There are two trains each way on the high-speed line after they restarted last year following a suspension due to Covid restrictions, with passenger numbers down on pre-pandemic levels.

Only Russian or Finnish citizens are allowed on the trains, thanks to a rule imposed by Russia. But there were still plenty of passengers on Monday for HS to interview.

One Dutch-Russian couple were reunited in Helsinki before travelling on to Holland, and Alyonna, a fleeing Russian, explained that the train was her only route out of the country.

Others had similar stories of joy at getting out and sadness at having to leave, but they were largely horrified at the war ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

VR told the paper that they would continue running trains to Russia for now, and that any decision to stop doing so would not be theirs alone to make.

Finnair fretting

Russia's isolation has had a huge impact on many businesses in the west, and Finnair is one of those now scrambling to re-evaluate its strategy.

Iltalehti asked (siirryt toiseen palveluun) consultant Jorma Mäntynen for his analysis of the situation.

"This hasn't been seen before," said Mäntynen. "Commercial and communication relationships have significantly weakened between different continents. In that sense it's pretty catastrophic."

He says Finnair faces difficulties because of its strategy of offering a link between Europe and Asia — by flying over Russia. That 'shortcut' promise no longer applies, and the alternative route via the Middle East is an expensive solution for a Helsinki-based outfit.

The problem for Finnair, and the rest of us, is that they do not know how long this situation will continue, and therefore can't plan for the future.

For now the airline has cancelled flights to Japan, China and Korea this week, and flights to Russia until 28 May.

The company declined to comment to Iltalehti. CEO Topi Manner had said in a statement on Monday that some of the firm's routes are economically unviable if they have to fly a longer route, but that the company understands the urgency of the situation in Ukraine and the necessity of sanctions.

Tampere Kyiv solidarity

Tampere paper Aamulehti has a photo gallery and video (siirryt toiseen palveluun) from 'Kyiv park' in the city, which has seen people light candles and gather to show solidarity with the Ukrainian capital.

The park was created in the Kaleva district as part of the twinning of Tampere with Kyiv in 1954.

AL also has some positive repercussions from the crisis, as the hockey capital of Finland sees the return of some of its favourite players (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

Marko Anttila rejoins Ilves for the conclusion of the Finnish season, after his club Jokerit announced it would not complete the playoffs in Russia's KHL.

Not to be outdone, their city rivals Tappara signed up Otto Leskinen and Veli-Matti Savinainen for the rest of the season.

The city is due to host World Championships this May, but as expected the IIHF announced (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on Monday evening that the Russian and Belarussian teams would not be allowed to compete there.

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