Finland is preparing to build barriers on its eastern border with Russia, the government announced on Thursday.
The government plans to change the border legislation that will allow the construction of these barriers, with the aim of strengthening the nation’s defense against Vladimir Putin.
Finland, which is currently applying for membership in the Western NATO military alliance, has a history of wars with Russia, although currently the forest-covered border area between the two countries is marked only with signs and plastic lines for most of its 1,300 km (810 miles) length.
Finland’s government has rushed to tighten border security amid fears Russia is trying to pressure Finland by sending asylum seekers to its borders – as the European Union has accused Belarus of doing late last year when hundreds of migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa were stranded at the Polish border.
The government’s amendments to the law include a proposal to allow the reception of asylum applications to be concentrated only at specific entry points.
Under current EU rules, migrants have the right to seek asylum at any point of entry into an EU member country.
The changes would also allow the construction of barriers such as fences, as well as new roads to facilitate border patrols on the Finnish side.
“Later, the government will decide on border barriers at critical areas on the eastern border, based on the assessment of Finnish border guards,” Interior Minister Krista Mikkonen said in a statement.