Finnish–Russian border

The easternmost point of Finland is the western part of an island in Lake Virmajärvi, divided by the border. The white and blue striped pole on the left represents the Finnish border zone, while the red and green striped pole on the right represents the Russian border zone. The short white pole in the middle marks the actual border.
Border zone signs in Paljakka.

The Finnish–Russian border is the roughly north/south international border between Finland and Russia. Some 1,340 km (833 miles) long,[1] it runs mostly through uninhabited taiga forests and sparsely populated rural areas, not following any particular natural feature or river.[2] It is also part of the external border of both the Schengen Area and the European Union.

Border crossings are controlled and patrolled by the Finnish Border Guard and Border Guard Service of Russia, who also enforce border zones (0.1–3 km on the Finnish side,[3] 7.5 km[citation needed] on the Russian side). Entry to a border zone requires a permit. The electronic surveillance on the Finnish side is concentrated most heavily on the "southernmost 200 kilometers" and is constantly growing in sophistication.[4] Russia maintains its 500-year-old border patrol in the arctic region as elsewhere and plans to upgrade Soviet border technologies to both save on cost and to fully maximize the efficiency of the Border Service by the year 2020. But Lieutenant-General Vladimir Streltsov, deputy head of the Russian border service, noted that electronic surveillance will never replace the human element.[5]

The border can be crossed only at official checkpoints, and visas are required. Major border checkpoints are found in Vaalimaa and Nuijamaa, where customs services on both sides inspect and levy fees on imported goods.

The two endpoints of the border are a tripoint of Norway, Finland, and Russia (69°03′06″N 28°55′45″E / 69.05167°N 28.92917°E / 69.05167; 28.92917 (Muotkavaara tripoint)) in the north on Muotkavaara, and the shore of Gulf of Finland, in which there is a maritime boundary between the respective territorial waters, terminating in a narrow strip of international waters between Finnish and Estonian territorial waters.


The first border treaty on this border was signed in Nöteborg in 1323, between Sweden (to which Finland belonged) and the Novgorod Republic. The Treaty of Teusina moved the border eastbound. The Treaty of Nystad in 1721 and Treaty of Åbo in 1743 moved the border westbound. The Treaty of Fredrikshamn converted all of Finland from Swedish territory to a Russian possession. However the Finnish–Russian border was moved back to the pre-1721 location.

The Treaty of Tartu in 1920 defined Finland as independent and it defined the border. A demarcation was included in it. The land border was demarcated in the Treaty of Paris (1947) following the Continuation War (1941–44), in which Finnish Karelia and Petsamo were ceded to the Soviet Union. The naval border was established in 1940 and more accurately defined in 1965. The border is uncontroversial and clearly defined in law.[6] Both states verified the inviolability of borders and territorial integrity in the first Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in 1975.

During the Cold War, the border formed a part of the Iron Curtain. The Soviet side had extensive electronic systems and patrols to prevent escapes. Border surveillance began at a large distance from the actual border, and was as extensive as elsewhere along the Iron Curtain. However, unlike in the West proper, the government of Finland did not protect illegal border crossers and returned them to the Soviet authorities if captured. Illegal border crossers would have to leave Finland, and defect to the West, via e.g. Sweden.

List of border checkpoints

From north to south.

Passport stamps

The following are Finnish ink passport stamps applied at the Finnish–Russian border.


  1. ^ Grenfell, Julian; Jopling, Thomas Michael (2008). FRONTEX: the EU external borders agency, 9th report of session 2007-08. House of Lords Stationery Office. p. 13. ISBN 0-1040-1232-3. 
  2. ^ []
  3. ^ []
  4. ^ "Electronic surveillance grows at Russian border as border guard strength is cut". HELSINGIN SANOMAT INTERNATIONAL EDITION - HOME. 6 October 2009. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Borisov, Timofey (28 May 2012). "Shpion v tsifrovom formate". Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  6. ^ []

External links