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Finland to shut border crossings with Russia, day after reopening

by Elsa Court December 14, 2023 11:52 PM 2 min read
An asylum seeker sits on the ground near the Nuijamaa border crossing between Finland and Russia on Nov. 17, 2023, after the Finnish government announced plans to close its eastern crossings. (Alessandro Rampazzo / AFP via Getty Images)
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Finland will close its border crossings with Russia from 8 p.m. local time on Dec. 15, the Finnish government announced on Dec. 14.

Finland announced earlier on Dec. 14 that it had temporarily reopened two border crossings with Russia. The border crossings had been shut since Nov. 30.

Finland's Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said at a press conference that the government hoped that "the situation of illegal immigration on the eastern border would have calmed down during the two-week closure."

The border guard said that 96 asylum seekers, "mainly from Somalia, Syria, and India," arrived from Russia at the Niirala border crossing over the course of the day on Dec. 14. The border Guard recommended closing the border, Rantanen said.

The border crossings were shut for two weeks after an unusually high number of third-country asylum seekers arriving at the Finnish border from Russia without proper documentation.

Helsinki said that Moscow was orchestrating a 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.

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