Finland has recently taken steps to shut down several border crossings with Russia as a response to the sudden increase in Middle Eastern and African migrants entering the country. Accusing the Kremlin of orchestrating this flow of migrants as retaliation for joining NATO, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo announced the decision to close four out of the nine border crossings. The closures were prompted by the arrival of approximately 280 asylum seekers, mainly from Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Iraq, with a further 100 migrants swarming the southern crossings just before the shutdown.
These individuals have been entering Finland through Russia by legal means, either by bicycle or on foot. Concerns about national security and changes in Russia’s activities have been cited as reasons behind these border control measures. Finland’s 830-mile border with Russia made it the 31st member of the NATO military alliance in April, in response to the tensions arising from Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
To address the influx of asylum seekers arriving from Russia, Finnish authorities have erected fencing at the Nuijamaa border crossing station. Migrants who arrived at the Finnish border on Thursday, the day before the entry stations were closed, were loaded into vans by border guards. Sign boards have also been placed to alert travelers that entry to Russia is no longer allowed through the Lappeenranta crossing.
The new Finnish border policy has received praise from European Union President Ursula von Leyen, who described Russia’s instrumentalization of migrants as shameful. Von Leyen thanked the Finnish Border Guards for protecting the European borders. However, these measures have faced criticism from the Kremlin, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov claiming that Finland is making a “big mistake” and jeopardizing bilateral relations.
It is important to note that two border crossings in Finland’s northern region will continue to accept asylum applications, while the closed entry points will remain shut until February 18. These border control measures aim to address the sudden influx of migrants and ensure the security of Finland’s borders.
Why did Finland shut down border crossings with Russia?
Finland shut down several border crossings with Russia in response to a sudden influx of Middle Eastern and African migrants entering the country, accusing the Kremlin of orchestrating this influx as revenge for joining NATO.
How many asylum seekers arrived in Finland from Russia?
Approximately 280 asylum seekers, mainly from Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Iraq, arrived in Finland from Russia since September, with an additional 100 migrants arriving just before the border closures.
How are these migrants entering Finland?
These individuals are legally entering Russia from their home countries and then making their way to Finland by bicycle or on foot.
How long will the border crossings remain closed?
The closed border crossings will remain shut until February 18.
What is the response to Finland’s border policy?
The European Union President Ursula von Leyen praised Finland’s new border policy and criticized Russia’s instrumentalization of migrants. However, the Kremlin has expressed disapproval and claimed that Finland is damaging bilateral relations.