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Finland shuts borders with Russia as conscription age men flee Putin order

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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.

RUSSIA DETAILS WHO WILL EVADE CONSCRIPTION, WAR IN UKRAINE

Passengers get off a coach from St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, Saturday Sept. 24, 2022. Finland border guards said Friday that the number of people entering from Russia has climbed sharply, with media reporting a 107% increase compared with last week. 

Passengers get off a coach from St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, Saturday Sept. 24, 2022. Finland border guards said Friday that the number of people entering from Russia has climbed sharply, with media reporting a 107% increase compared with last week. 
(Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)

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. 

Russian army conscripts put on their uniform at the military registration and enlistment office in St. Petersburg, on April 22, 2014. Tens of thousands of Russian troops are massed on Ukraine's eastern border in what NATO believes is a state of readiness to invade. 

Russian army conscripts put on their uniform at the military registration and enlistment office in St. Petersburg, on April 22, 2014. Tens of thousands of Russian troops are massed on Ukraine’s eastern border in what NATO believes is a state of readiness to invade. 
(Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images)

PUTIN’S CALL FOR RUSSIAN CONSCRIPTS WILL REQUIRE ARMS MOSCOW DOESN’T HAVE, NATO CHIEF SAYS

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. 

Cars queue to cross the border from Russia to Finland at the Vaalimaa border check point in Virolahti in Virolahti, Finland, Friday Sept. 23, 2022. 

Cars queue to cross the border from Russia to Finland at the Vaalimaa border check point in Virolahti in Virolahti, Finland, Friday Sept. 23, 2022. 
(Sasu Makinen/Lehtikuva via AP)

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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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