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PM Marin: Parliamentary parties will discuss border fence "as soon as possible"

The Finnish Border Guard has proposed that Finland build fences at critically sensitive points along the Russian border.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) speaking with Finance Minister Annika Saarikko (Cen) during Tuesday's parliamentary debate. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Parliamentary party leaderships will meet to discuss the possible construction of a fence along parts of Finland's long border with Russia "as soon as possible", Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) told Parliament on Tuesday during a debate on the nation's foreign and security policy.

During the debate, Marin said she welcomed the Finnish Border Guard's proposal that fencing could be constructed at critically sensitive points along the eastern border.

"If the border authority thinks that it needs this fence to manage the border in the future, I think it is a proposal that should be taken seriously," Marin said.

Speaking to Yle News' All Points North podcast last week, Matti Pitkäniitty, Head of the International Affairs Unit of the Finnish Border Guard, said that Finland's border policy needs to adapt to the changing nature of modern migration.

"The world has evolved and our basic conclusion is that our traditional methods, our traditional way of working, is not up to these tasks that we see in the world today," Pitkäniitty said.

You can listen to the full podcast using the embedded player here, via Yle Areena, on Spotify or via the options found in this article.

In its report, the Border Guard proposed that between 130 and 260 kilometres of fencing be built along the 1,300-kilometre-long border with Russia to prevent any unauthorised crossings.

The cost of the project is estimated to run into hundreds of millions of euros, the Border Guard noted, and construction would take about 3-4 years.

The foreign policy implications of building a fence along the eastern border were discussed at a meeting between the president and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy last week, Marin said.

She further noted that the aim of the joint meeting of the parliamentary parties would be to obtain the broadest possible parliamentary support for the construction of the fence.

Finance Minister Annika Saarikko (Cen) told Parliament that her ministry is prepared to approve financing of the construction of the fence.

Security situation becoming increasingly difficult

Tuesday's debate in Parliament took place in the shadow of growing concern about Russia's continued aggression in Ukraine.

Tensions have especially heightened since Russia announced a partial mobilisation of reservists two weeks ago and further when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of four Ukrainian territories last Friday following the holding of sham referenda.

Finland has joined other Western countries in condemning the Russian declaration.

Geopolitical tensions in the Baltic Sea region have been further exacerbated by the leaks from the Nord Stream gas pipelines. The explosions that caused the leaks are believed to be sabotage and although experts suspect Russian involvement, there is no proof at this stage of the investigation.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green), who opened Tuesday's parliamentary debate, said that Russia is currently attempting to influence the West, and this strategy is likely to increase in the coming months.

However, Haavisto noted that Finland is well prepared for such attempts at 'hybrid influencing' and Finnish authorities constantly assess potentially harmful activities.

During the debate, MPs also stressed the importance of continuing to support Ukraine.

"Ukraine will win this war if Western support remains strong and sufficiently determined. Finland must take the initiative in this," Parliament's Defence Committee Chair Antti Häkkänen (NCP) said.

Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen (Cen) said that Finland is currently preparing a ninth aid package of military equipment for Ukraine. The total value of the previous packages is estimated at around 93 million euros.

"Decisions will be taken soon. It is unlikely to be the last, we must be prepared to support Ukraine for a long time to come," Kaikkonen said.

Tuesday's parliamentary debate also included discussion of recent Russian threats to use nuclear weapons.

Even though MPs agreed that the threshold for their use in Ukraine was high, Russia's continued mentions of nuclear weapons deployment was nonetheless a cause for concern.

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11:55: Clarified that last week's meeting was between the president and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy

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