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Hundreds of Russian train carriages halted in Finland for possible sanctions violations

Finnish state rail operator VR has stopped hundreds of Russian train carriages around the country on suspicion of carrying EU-sanctioned cargo.

Allegro trains cross the border between Finland and Russia in Vainikkala (file photo). Image: Mikko Savolainen / Yle
Yle News

All train traffic between Finland and Russia was suspended for several hours on Wednesday night to block further transport of blocked goods into or from Finland.

The crossing point for freight trains on the Finnish-Russian border in Vainikkala was closed late Wednesday due a backlog of traffic to be inspected.

Plenty of goods were still coming into Finland across the border before EU sanctions were imposed restrictive measures beginning on 23 February, the day before the invasion.

On Wednesday, member states agreed to adopt more sanctions, including new restrictions on the export of maritime navigation and radio communication technology. They also expanded the list of sanctioned targets to 862 individuals and 53 entities.

"We had to check to ensure that no deliveries under new sanctions were brought into Finland," said Eljas Koistinen, Commercial Director of Transpoint, VR's freight logistics subsidiary.

Border crossing points received details about the latest sanctions on Wednesday evening. According to Koistinen, several trains were blocked from entering Finland. Otherwise, freight traffic returned to the 'new normal' on Thursday morning.

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No tech products to Russia

Customs carries out some of the inspections of rail freight at ports and loading sites.

"The sanctions are aimed at preventing the export of high-tech products to Russia, which could affect the maintenance of military capabilities," said Mikko Grönberg, Director of Customs Enforcement – and a former official with the European Union Advisory Mission in Ukraine.

The Foreign Ministry will be asked to give an opinion on the suspected shipments suspended by Customs, which will eventually decide whether the products can be exported to Russia.

Hundreds of Russian train carriages stopped

Hundreds of Russian train carriages have been stopped in Finland and are not being processed for the time being, due to sanctions.

"We're currently in discussions with customers and various parties about what will happen to them. At the moment, we're not handling them in any way," Koistinen told Yle. VR declined to say where the carriages are located.

Transit traffic of Russian cargo through Finland has practically ground to a halt, as shipping companies are not accepting shipments to or from Russia. Even the largest international freight forwarders were not accepting new transport orders for deliveries to Russia as of Thursday.

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