Situation at the EU’s land border with Russia

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, already more than 1 303 000 Russian citizens have entered the European Union through its land borders. At the same time, more than 1 273 000 Russian citizens have returned to Russia via its land borders with the EU.

Following the announcement of the partial mobilisation by Russia, neighbouring EU Member States have seen an increase in border crossings. Over the past week, nearly 66 000 Russian citizens entered the EU, more than 30% compared to the preceding week. Most of them arrived to Finland and Estonia. Over the last four days, 30 000 Russian citizens have arrived in Finland.

The majority of them hold residence permits or visas to EU Member States or Schengen Associated Countries, others have dual citizenships. Member States are also reporting entries by Ukrainian citizens in need of temporary protection as they flee the eastern occupied region of Ukraine via Russia.

Frontex estimates that illegal border crossings are likely to increase if the Russian Federation decides to close the border for potential conscripts.  On 19 September, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia introduced restrictions regarding the entry of Russian citizens travelling solely for the purpose of tourism or leisure. Similar restrictions are also under consideration in Finland.

In the short term, we are likely to see a growing number of Russian citizens arriving at border crossing points to the EU due to the uncertainty related to the ongoing mobilisation in the Russian Federation. In the longer term, we might see an increase in illegal border crossings at the EU external borders with Russia and Ukraine, as well as an increase in illegal stays in the EU by Russian citizens already present in Member States.