“We Have to Cut the Strings”

“They built a wall!” The shore of the Vuoksi River in Imatra in more peaceful times. Archive photo by the Russian Reader

I love Imatra and Lappeenranta and South Karelia (Finland) more than any place on earth. Stupidly, perhaps, I regret that I wasn’t born there. Less stupidly, I am sad that I haven’t been there for two and a half years. BBC Newsnight went there this past week to talk with the locals about what they think about suddenly finding themselves across the border from a warring country and whether they think their heretofore proudly neutral Suomi should join NATO. Thanks to Riittaa Mustonen for the link.

Ironically, the reporter who did this story is named Sima. ||| TRR

If Finland joins Nato, its 1,300km border with Russia will become Nato’s eastern front. There is a troubled history of war between the two countries, but how do people living on this potential new frontier feel, and what’s been the impact of Putin’s aggression on previously close relationships between Finns and Russians who live here? In South Karelia, officials say the absence of Russian tourists crossing to Finland is costing the region €1m a day. Newsnight’s Sima Kotecha reports from the border town of Imatra and the region’s biggest city Lappeenranta where there are more than 2,000 Russian speakers.

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