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New NATO member to begin seizing Russian cars

Finland has joined Estonia and Lithuania in enforcing the bloc’s punitive measures against vehicles from its neighbor

Cars with Russian license plates must leave Finland no later than March 15, otherwise they will be seized, Finnish customs warned on Tuesday.

The measure is mandated by EU sanctions against Russia, as well as a policy announced by Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs in September last year that set a transition period of six months for Russian-registered cars to leave the bloc, the customs service explained in a press release.

From Saturday, March 16, drivers of cars with Russian license plates must prove their right to use the vehicles in Finland if stopped by the police, the document says. All such vehicles that do not fall under certain exceptions will be seized and removed from the territory of the EU, and their owners will have to pay customs duty and taxes.

Only vehicles owned by full-time students and persons working under a valid fixed-term employment contract can temporarily remain in Finland, the customs office went on to say. Such cars must have been brought to the country legally before the import ban took effect. An exception has also been made for cars that are in Finland under the EU sanctions regulations, such as cars owned by the bloc citizens who permanently reside in Russia.

The press release also notes that it is currently impossible to exit the Nordic state through its border with Russia, as crossing points remain closed until 14 April 2024. “Authorities will not issue any separate instructions on practical matters relating to vehicle exits. Instead, car owners are responsible for the decisions concerning their vehicles,” the document says.

Finnish customs did not provide information on the number of Russian-registered vehicles currently in the country.

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EU country to begin impounding Russian cars

The five EU countries bordering Russia – Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – have banned the entry of cars with Russian license plates, as such entry is being treated by the EU as an import that has been prohibited by Brussels since 2022 as part of its sanctions regime. Russian-registered cars have also been banned in Bulgaria, Germany, and Norway, which is not an EU member state, but shares a land border with Russia.

Moscow has criticized the bans as “completely absurd” and claimed that Brussels’ restrictions are pushing EU countries to discriminate against Russians.

 

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