Finnish Border Closures Amid Migrant Surge: Government Takes Drastic Steps
Prime Minister Petteri Orpo announced today that Finland will close all but its northernmost crossing point with Russia due to a significant increase in migrants.
Since August, around 700 asylum seekers have entered Finland without a visa, prompting the closure of half of its eight border crossings with Russia last week.
Orpo stated in a press conference that the government has decided to close more border posts, leaving only the Raja-Jooseppi station operational.
Despite previous measures, the surge in migrants seeking asylum continues, with the government attributing the situation to the involvement of foreign authorities and international criminal elements.
Accusations Against Russia and the Response from Moscow
The Finnish government has accused Russia of deliberately pushing migrants to the border as retaliation for Finland’s increased defense cooperation with NATO, an assertion Moscow dismisses.
The Kremlin criticized Finland’s decision to close border crossings, calling it a “big mistake” that damages bilateral relations.
Finland’s NATO accession, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, led to threats of counter-measures from Moscow.
In October, the Finnish border guard raised concerns about Russia’s policy shift, allowing migrants without proper documentation to cross the border.
Orpo labeled this as a systematic and organized action by Russian authorities.
Closure Details and International Reactions
Border crossings will be closed starting Friday and will initially remain shut until December 23.
The Finnish interior ministry emphasized the serious threat to national security and public order posed by the influx of migrants from Russia.
Orpo acknowledged that current legislation allows the complete closure of the entire border, but the necessary conditions have not been met.
Polish President Andrzej Duda labeled Russia’s actions as a “hybrid attack,” drawing parallels with the situation at Poland’s eastern border with Belarus.
The EU has accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of pushing migrants across its border to Poland in retaliation for sanctions in 2021.
Historical Context and Finland’s Response
Finland’s relationship with Russia soured after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leading Finland to join the US-led NATO alliance in April.
In anticipation of potential political pressure using migrants, Finland modified its laws in July 2022 to streamline the construction of a robust barrier along its eastern border.
The construction of a planned 200-kilometer fence began in February, featuring a three-meter tall structure with barbed wire, night vision cameras, lights, and loudspeakers in sensitive areas.
Despite ongoing construction, only three kilometers have been completed, leaving most of the border secured by light wooden fences.
The Finnish defense forces are assisting in the construction of temporary barriers around certain border crossing points.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn