HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland’s government on Thursday proposed spending 139 million euros ($143.4 million) to build fences along parts of the country’s border with Russia, fulfilling a promise made in the wake of Moscow’s February invasion of Ukraine.
Finland, which is applying for membership in the Western military alliance NATO, has a history of wars with Russia, but the forest-covered border is still only marked with signs and plastic lines for most of its 1,300 km (810 mile) length.
The Nordic country said in June it would build barriers along parts of the Russian frontier in a move to strengthen preparedness against hybrid threats such as the potential mass influx of asylum seekers.
The bill on preparedness, while contested in terms of European Union asylum rules, was passed in July by a supermajority that allows parliament to fast-track laws.
The country’s border guard authority has said it ultimately aims to construct between 130-260 km of fences, covering 10-20% of the overall length, focusing primarily on border crossing points and adjacent areas in southeast Finland.
Prior to Thursday’s spending proposal, parliament had only allocated 6 million euros for a trial project.
Finland’s majority centre-left government faces a general election early next year.
($1 = 0.9691 euros)
(Reporting by Essi Lehto, editing by Terje Solsvik)