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Finland temporarily reopens 2 border crossings with Russia

by Nate Ostiller December 14, 2023 1:57 PM 2 min read
Border patrol guard at Nuijamaa, Finland, not far from the country's border with Russia, on March 18, 2022. Illustrative purposes only. (Giulio Paletta/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
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Finland temporarily reopened two border crossings with Russia on Dec. 14 after ordering its whole border to close for two weeks on Nov. 30, Finnish media outlet YLE reported.

The temporary openings will last until Jan. 14, 2024.

November saw an unusually high number of third-country asylum seekers arriving at the Finnish border from Russia without proper documentation. Helsinki accused Moscow of orchestrating the migrant influx as retribution for the country's entry into NATO and ordered the borders to close.

In its Nov. 27 assessment, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) cited a Russian insider source saying that Russian authorities had directed the Interior Ministry to gather migrants from the Middle East, Africa, and other regions, and send them to the Finnish border.

Reports of a Moscow-orchestrated migrant crisis echo the strategy used by Belarus against its NATO neighbors. Minsk has been facilitating flows of third-country migrants to the Baltic countries and Poland since 2021.

The Finnish government announced it would open two of the crossings on Dec. 12, explaining that there had been no attempts to cross by asylum seekers in recent weeks. If needed, Helsinki could work quickly to shut the borders down again, even during the upcoming holidays.

Following the decision, new asylum seekers soon began gathering at the crossings.

As of 2:15 p.m. local time, Finland's Northern Karelia border guard service said that 24 asylum seekers had arrived at the Niirala border crossing so far on Dec. 14. There is also a traffic jam leaving Finland, it said.

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