Skip to content

Freight traffic slowdown prompts Customs to suspend hiring at Russian border crossings

Freight transport is being severely reduced by sanctions on Russia, but there are also fewer visitor crossings due to coronavirus-related restrictions.

Cross border traffic in Niirala has increased compared to a year ago, but remains far from pre-pandemic levels. Image: Pauliina Tolvanen / Yle

Finnish Customs has suspended hiring of new workers at crossing stations on the Russian border, the agency announced on Tuesday.

Due to effects from the coronavirus pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, cross-border traffic between Finland and its eastern neighbour is currently limited, reducing the need for border control and customs staff.

There were some apprenticeship training vacancies at the border but according to the Customs Offices Department's Maritta Haapasalmi, that recruitment effort has been suspended.

Otherwise, the number of employees at the eastern border has not changed. Haapasalmi said the agency has avoided redundancies or furloughs at the crossings.

"We have tried to shift duties at the eastern border that do not require workers to be on-site which can be done at the workplace or, for example, by telecommuting," she said.

Finnish Customs has also reduced freight service hours at several border crossing points, including in Imatra, Nuijamaa and Vainikkala.

The slowdown in traffic began during the Covid crisis, but sanctions imposed on Russia after its deadly invasion of Ukraine have prevented Russian and Belarusian lorries from operating in Finland, which has had a major impact on cross-border traffic.

Haapasalmi said the situation at the eastern border is being monitored on a weekly basis. If coronavirus-related border restrictions are lifted in July, Finnish Customs expects a resulting increase in passenger traffic, as well as the agency's workload.