Finland must have an independent and credible capacity to maintain its border security. The barrier fence along Finland's eastern border that is now to be built is an important part of this capacity. The barrier fence will improve the effectiveness of our border control here and now. It will support the management of disruptions at the border in a significant manner. In practice, a physical barrier fence is necessary in situations where illegal entry is instrumentalised or extensive. The barrier fence will also reduce Finland's dependence on the effectiveness of Russian border control.
The pilot stage of the eastern border barrier fence
The Finnish Border Guard has started the construction of the planned eastern border barrier fence. The new pilot will be built in Pelkola in Imatra and comprise a fence that is about three kilometres long, after which about 70 kilometres of barrier fence will be built at border crossing points and in their surrounding areas. According to the overall plan, the barrier fence will be built along approximately 200 kilometres of our 1,300-kilometer-long eastern border. Most of the fence will be located at the south-east border, which is a priority area for border control. It would not be a sensible option to build a fence that extends along the entire length of the border.
The pilot phase is an important part of the progress of the project. It will tests the effectiveness and viability of the solutions selected for the management and implementation of the project, the cost level for the construction of the barrier fence, contact with and the payment of compensation to landowners, and the construction of the barrier fence itself. In spring and early summer 2023, a barrier fence measuring about three kilometres in length will be built in Pelkola, Imatra. During the pilot phase, in addition to Pelkola, a barrier fence of approximately 300 metres will be built in the Immola garrison as part of the training environment of the Border and Coast Guard Academy. This will also be used as a test area for surveillance technology. The aim is for the pilot to be in summer 2023.
An environmental report on the entire barrier fence project has also been prepared during the pilot phase. The environmental report has been prepared by an external expert, and environmental experts have been consulted extensively in connection with its preparation. The significant environmental impacts identified in the report will be taken into account in the barrier fence project so that the impacts can be brought to an acceptable level.
After the pilot stage, the Finnish Border Guard will initiate the next stage of the project. The implementation of this next stage will begin by constructing first the target area of the border crossing point in Salla on the latter half of year 2023. In Salla, the crossing of wetlands will be tested by using a pontoon road made of concrete. The rest of the target areas of the following stage will be initiated during the winter 2023–2024 by clearing the area out of trees and, possibly, by building pontoon roads of concrete. The construction of the actual barrier fence has been planned to commence in these areas in spring 2024, when sufficient experiences has been received from the pilot stage.
Technical characteristics of the border barrier fence
The barrier fence consists of a fence, an adjacent road, a deforested opening as well as a technical surveillance system, which will be an important tool for border control. Even this system is not a solution to any threat on its own; it is a part of overall border control. The barrier fence will allow the Finnish Border Guard more time to react and will facilitate the management of disruptions in a decisive way by detecting, preventing, slowing down and guiding people's movement at the border. In addition, the road that would be built next to the fence would enable the Border Guard to react considerably faster than at present to events on the national border. Other means of enhancing border control, such as increasing staff and technical surveillance in border regions, would be neither cheaper nor faster solutions than a barrier fence.
The construction of the barrier fence will take place between 2023 and 2026. The life cycle of the barrier fence is about 50 years, but the technical monitoring system must be renewed approximately every ten years.
Progress of the project
After the pilot stage, the Finnish Border Guard will initiate the next stage of the project. The implementation of this next stage will begin by constructing first the target area of the border crossing point in Salla on the latter half of year 2023. In Salla, the crossing of wetlands will be tested by using a pontoon road made of concrete. The rest of the target areas of the following stage will be initiated during the winter 2023–2024 by clearing the area out of trees and by construction of roads and, possibly, by building pontoon roads of concrete. The construction of the barrier fence and the installation of the surveillance system has been planned to commence in these areas in spring 2024, when sufficient experiences has been received from the pilot stage.
Press releases on the topic
Construction of the pilot fence is progressing
INVITATION: Eastern border barrier fence is progressing – welcome to a press conference on 30 May 2023
The construction of the eastern border barrier fence has commenced
The construction of a pilot of the eastern border barrier fence has begun in Imatra
A pilot of the eastern border barrier fence to be built in Imatra