The Long Border
Lapland is a very vast and depopulated region. The border with Russia extends for 380km. Patrols can take days to reach the furthermost cottages.
On the control deck of the the Merikarhu ship. Due to a malfunction of a land radar the ship was deployed to be used as radar bridge for the time of the reparation.
The Border Guard is a cooperative authority in charge of controlling the long Finnish border inland and on the sea.
Border Guards in Lapland spend many days away from the main station, moving from cottage to cottage along the border. Reindeers are quite common encounters in the region as they are free breaded here.
Finland is the European Union country that shares the second longest border with Russia 1340km. In Finland territory there is also the easternmost inland point of EU.
Finland is also a border country of the Schengen area. The control of the border is fundamental not only for the security of Finland but also of the whole of EU.
From the top of the watching tower Russia is visible on the horizon line
Patrols are normally composed by two Border Guards. Juha(R) use his trained dog to spot tracks and in case follow them.
When an emergency happens Border Guards working at the sea are trained to respond within 30 minutes but usually it happens faster and after few minutes they're already on the boat.
Mika 36 years old works as Border Guard since 2001.
Many of the border guards share a big love for nature.
"If you don't like to stay in the wilderness you can't do this job in this area, sometimes we spend 4-5 days where the only person we meet is our patrol mate all the rest if forest and nature".
A frozen lake.The border line passes exactly in the middle of it, marked by a white and a black buoy. on the other side Russia. In 2015 a group of three Syrian asylum seekers coming from Russia illegally entered Finland crossing the lake during the first months of the years.
Mika 36 years old. After few hours patrolling the border he and his patrol mate reached a cottage where to rest for a bit and cook some food.
Finnish people are very much into saunas and Border Guards aren't any different.
Especially after a day spent in the cold, patrolling tens of kilometres of border, the best thing to recover is to have a warm sauna.
In the Coast Guard force patrols are composed by at least three people. Sometimes their job can appear very easy and relaxing but during their shifts they are always ready to take action in case of any illegal crossing of the border or any emergency at sea. Just few days before they had to intervene at late night in stormy conditions.
Finland share with Russia the second longest European border, 1340km.
The small island in the frame is the last Finnish piece of land before Russia. Buoys in the water mark the exact border points.
The Coast Guard is part of the Border Guard force and is in charge to control the Finnish border with Russia on the sea.
Alexi is a young 25 years old Border Guard working at the Hurpu station in the south east district. Shifts are between 4 and 6 days in a row where they live together with their fellows like in a small community. "it's very important to have good relationships between us because these are the same people that in case of danger can save my life" .
The border between Finland and Russia in the Lapland region reaches 380km of extension. Its very important to constantly patrol the border also to remember the location of the cottages along the border and be able to easily reach them even in the hardest weather conditions.
The southern coast of Finland is hugely populated with small island. Border Guards visit regularly the islands for checking on the surveillance equipment installed there.
Frontier zone start generally some hundreds meters before the actual border line with Russia. The area is strictly interdict to any civilian.
Cottages are very small and they can normally host no more than two people. Working shifts for Border Guards in Lapland can be as long as 5 days in a row, in which they are always ready to respond in case of emergency.
Watching towers are deployed on many island along the border. Janne a 31 years old official, checks the Russian coast line looking for Russian boats or inland activity.
Juho a Border Guard officer at the crossing point with Russia.
Salla, in Lapland is one of the two crossing points, in the region, between Russia and Finland.
During the Winter War a renowned battle took place in Salla. Russian army tried to cut Finland in two entering the Finnish territory with a huge amount of soldiers precisely here. With very few soldiers most of them Border Guards , Finnish army, thanks to the knowledge of the area succeeded in stopping the attack.
Tommi a 33 years old border guard officer heats up a sausage in the stove of the cottage. Breaks during patrols are very important. Especially during winter time, the body consumes a lot of energies to stay warm and it's important for the Border Guards to always be in optimal working conditions.
Antti a 45 years old officer, gives indication to the pilot during a sea patrol along the border with Russia. Patrols take place at different times of the day. Even if illegal crossings are very rare to happen, showing the Finnish presence to the Russians works as a deterrent.
The border between Finland and Russia in the Lapland region reaches 380km of extension.
in this picture Russia is just few meters beyond the fence that is being checked by the patrol.
After starting the wooden stove Tommi and Mika eat some food and drink some coffee before continuing with the patrol.
Visiting the cottages continuously is important to keep them in operative conditions and to memorise their location in the forest.
Lapland Border Guards constantly patrol the northern border between Finland and Russia. The area is vastly depopulated and keeping track of every activity going on at the border is fundamental for the security of the country. Because of the extreme operative conditions any electric surveillance equipment wouldn't be able to work because of the cold and the lack of power source.
Timo 37 serves as Border Guard since 2003 when he joined the force as a cross ski athlete. Since 2009 he is no longer an athlete, and works full-time as a border guard.
Just on the top of a mountain in front of the Russian border an observation post stands completely frozen. Depending on the season, some smaller posts are used or not.
Timo 37(L) and Marko 47(R) lit up a fire in the middle of the forest to prepare some coffee and cook sausages before heading back to the station. Making fire is not a daily activity even if it was in the past, when there were no patrols cottages where to stop. Nowadays every border guard must have skill to make fire in emergency cases especially in the Lapland district where there are many remote areas.
Tracks between cottages must be kept in practicable conditions so to ease any activity in case of emergency.