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Ambassador: Finland closing eastern border is an important turning point

Sven Sakkov.
Sven Sakkov. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Finland closing its eastern border with Russia is an important turning point for Finnish society as, historically, relations with its eastern neighbor have been rather cautious, Estonian Ambassador to Finland Sven Sakkov said on Thursday.

Finland closed its last open border crossing with Russia on Thursday morning. Now the only vehicles that can transit the border are trains.

"This is an important turning point for Finnish society because over the decades Finland's foreign policy [towards Russia] has been cautious and moderate and this has been seen as a value in its own right. Now it has emerged that the Finnish state can also make very strong and quick decisions," the ambassador told "Ringvaade".

Sakkov said the move has created a strong reaction in Finnish society but surveys show 75 percent of Finnish residents supported closing the border.

Small demonstrations held before the border closed were organized by Russians living in Finland who travel back and forth between the countries. It has now become harder to visit relatives in Russia.

Sakkov said little attention was paid to the border closure today, even though it coincided with the anniversary of the start of the Finnish-Russian Winter War.

He said the memory of the war has clearly shaped Finns' attitudes to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"Of course, all Finns know November 30, 1939. It has also led to a common and very clear approach in Finnish society to Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. It is personal for them because it speaks to them through history. What the two events on November 30 have in common is that Russia put pressure on Finland and Finland did not bend. I also don't see any changes in Finland's policy towards Russia in the near future," the ambassador said.

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Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright

Source: "Ringvaade", interviewed by Grete Lõbu

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