Amidst growing tensions between Russia and its European neighbors, Finland, Norway, and Estonia have implemented or considered stricter border controls with Russia. These countries accuse Russia of exploiting asylum seekers by sending them to the border without proper documentation. This move has raised concerns about a potential new Iron Curtain, reflecting a strained relationship between Russia and its neighbors.
Helsinki, the capital of Finland, closed four out of its nine border crossings with Russia until February 18, citing a spike in arrivals of asylum seekers from countries like Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia. The Finnish Border Guard erected barriers at the busiest border crossings between the two countries. Meanwhile, Norway’s Justice Minister expressed willingness to close the border in the far north if there is a significant increase in crossings. Estonia also announced plans to close all border crossing points with Russia if necessary, following an attempt by Somali migrants to enter via the border city of Narva. To fortify its border, Estonia has ordered anti-tank barriers.
The video of a confrontation between Finnish border guards and migrants at the Niirala border station went viral, highlighting the tensions at Russia’s border with European countries. In response to these developments, Finland is constructing a 124-mile fence along its border, expected to be completed by 2026. Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo suggested that the asylum seekers were being orchestrated or transported to the border by Russian border guards, possibly as a retaliation for Finland’s NATO membership and closer military cooperation with the United States.
Sari Arho Havrén, an expert on Russian affairs, suggests that Russia is attempting to pressure Finland due to its NATO membership and defense cooperation with the U.S. While Finland maintains its commitment to international human rights agreements and processes asylum applications, the situation could potentially worsen. Winter conditions make the asylum seekers extremely vulnerable at the border.
Notably, Russian residents in Finland have voiced their support for keeping the border open. However, the root cause of the situation lies in the Kremlin’s aggressive policy towards its neighbor. It remains uncertain what actions Russia may take next against Finland.
The Russian government denies weaponizing immigrants and refutes claims that it is using asylum seekers as a political tool. Nevertheless, these recent developments add to the tensions between Russia and its European neighbors.
While concerns about a new Iron Curtain may be premature, the current situation highlights the fragile nature of Russia’s relationships with its neighboring countries. Stricter border controls and growing mistrust could further strain diplomatic ties and potentially escalate the situation. Only time will reveal the long-term consequences of these actions.
Q: Why are Finland, Norway, and Estonia implementing stricter border controls with Russia?
A: These countries accuse Russia of exploiting asylum seekers by sending them to the border without proper documentation.
Q: How has Russia reacted to these border control measures?
A: The Russian government denies weaponizing immigrants and refutes claims that it is using asylum seekers as a political tool.
Q: What are the concerns about a new Iron Curtain?
A: The tensions and strained relationships between Russia and its neighboring countries, as well as the implementation of stricter border controls, raise concerns about a potential new Iron Curtain.