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Finland sends military to build fences near crossing with Russia

by The Kyiv Independent news desk November 19, 2023 7:29 PM 2 min read
Vehicles of the Finnish Defence Forces at the Vartius border station in Kuhmo, Finland, on Nov. 19, 2023. (Miska Puumala/Lehtikuva/ AFP via Getty Images)
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The Finnish Defense Forces will assist the country's border guards in erecting fences near Kuhmo, a town near Finland's border with Russia, the Finnish Broadcasting Company reported on Nov. 19.

According to the Finnish outlet, the Finnish defense forces were sent to help with construction of temporary barriers at the Vartius crossing station.

The construction and materials needed have reportedly already arrived at the site.

When asked by the outlet why they are building the fences, the Finnish Border Guard cited ensuring "public order and safety in the prevailing disturbance situation and to guarantee that legal cross-border traffic runs safely."

The Finnish military are reportedly not providing the border guards with military assistance, as the "situation is under control."

Finland closed several border crossings in an attempt to stop the flow of migrants of various origins from Russia.

"Finland has chosen the path of confrontation with Russia. From the Kremlin’s point of view, this is a big mistake," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

Finland closed four of its nine crossings along its eastern border from Nov. 17, 2023, to Feb. 18, 2024, to stop the flow of Middle Eastern and African migrants it says Moscow is purposefully ushering across the border, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo told reporters on Nov. 16.

The four crossings on the southern stretch of the over 1,000-kilometer-long border are the busiest entry points between the two countries.

Finland has accused Russia of encouraging or turning a blind eye to undocumented migrants in retaliation for Helsinki's accession to NATO in April.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, during a press conference on Nov. 15, said Finland should be prepared for a “certain malice” from Russia over the country's accession to the alliance.

“Yes, we are now constantly being reminded every day that Finland joined NATO. I think that this time, maybe it was the DCA (defense cooperation agreement) that triggered the situation,” he said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen supported Finland's move, saying it was helping to protect the European Union's border.

"Russia's instrumentalization of migrants is shameful. I fully support the measures taken by Finland," she said on X on Nov. 16.

Finnish authorities reported a spike in asylum seekers arriving at its eastern border on Nov. 12. These are foreigners who pass through Russia from third countries, such as Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Somalia.

Finnish media also reported in September that Russia has been building up its military bases along the border with Finland.

Finland's Borders Act allows the government to close a crossing point or restrict border traffic for a limited or indefinite period of time in order to prevent serious threats to national security or public health.

Finland shut its border to Russian tourists in September 2022.

Finland plans to restrict border with Russia due to security concerns
Finland plans to close crossings along its eastern border on Nov. 16 for national security purposes, the Finnish media outlet Helsingin Sanomat reported on Nov. 15, citing sources within the government.

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