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Porsches & Bentleys Are Piling Up At Finland’s Helsinki Airport As Russians Bypass Flight Ban

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Expensive luxury cars such as Porsches and Bentleys have become a fixture at Finland’s Helsinki airport parking garage as wealthy Russians seek ways to avoid EU travel restrictions from Russia.

One of the European Union’s reactions to the Ukraine attack was to prohibit Russian aircraft from entering European airspace, making it difficult for Russians to travel out of the country. Traveling to neighbouring Finland and catching a flight from the capital’s Helsinki airport is a workaround for those who are close enough to make the trip by car.

Tourists enter Finland on a visa issued by one of several countries and only use Helsinki as a transit point to their final destination. There were over 230,000 border crossings from Russia to Finland in July alone, up from 125,000 in June when Russia’s COVID travel restrictions were still in effect.

However, many Finns, including the country’s foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, are dissatisfied with the situation. Finland is not permitted by EU rules to close its borders to specific nationalities. That kind of decision can only be made at the EU level, and Haavisto wants it to happen next.

“It would be good if countries were prepared to discuss the situation at the EU foreign ministers’ meeting at the end of August,” Haavisto told AFP.

“At the same time that Finland and the Baltic countries are restricting visas, it would be beneficial if all EU countries made similar decisions,” he added.

The Russian tourists AFP spoke with at Helsinki Airport were less enthusiastic about the prospect of having their travel options restricted further.

“I’m not sure we should be prevented from travelling,” Pavel Alekhin told reporters. “I believe that everyone should travel because seeing how other peaceful countries live makes you more peaceful.”

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