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Finland on Friday said it would “significantly restrict” the number of Russian “tourists” it will permit to cross its borders as an exodus of Russian men attempt to flee and avoid conscription.
The Finnish government said its decision was made over concerns that issuing swaths of visas to Russian men would cause “serious damage to Finland’s international position.”
Few details were released on the restrictions that Helsinki will now enforce, though its decision comes after other neighboring nations took steps earlier in the week to block Russian tourists from crossing their borders.
Finland’s latest decision has meant that all land border crossings connecting Russia to Europe have been blocked.
The move comes as thousands of Russian men have reportedly begun fleeing the country following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decree this week calling for a “partial mobilization” to funnel more men into the war in Ukraine.
Putin said he would be mobilizing “reservists,” which suggested anyone of conscription age could be forced to fight in Ukraine.
Russian men ages 18-27 are required to serve in Russia’s ranks for one year, though certain conditions like higher education and health could help some male populations skirt the requirement.
Some 300,000 men are expected to be mobilized to fight in Ukraine, where Russian troops have allegedly seen significant losses, though Moscow said Friday that tech, business and state journalists will be exempt.
Kyiv has claimed that while over 9,000 of its troops have perished in the fighting, nearly 55,000 Russian soldiers have been killed.
Death tolls throughout the war have not been independently verified.
But images depicting airports packed with fighting-age men and thousands causing traffic jams at border crossings suggest Russian citizens are unwilling to risk the statistics of fighting in Ukraine.
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