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Finland to close entire border with Russia for 2 weeks

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 28, 2023 8:11 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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Finland will shut the border crossing point of Raja-Jooseppi from Nov. 30 to Dec. 13, which means its entire border with Russia will be closed for two weeks, the Finnish government said on Nov. 28.

Finland previously closed all but the Raja-Jooseppi crossing in the country’s far north in response to a growing migrant crisis allegedly orchestrated by Moscow.

As long as the measure is in force, asylum seekers will be able to apply for international protection in Finland only at air- and maritime traffic border points, according to the government.

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.

“Russia is enabling the instrumentalization of people and guiding them to the Finnish border in harsh winter conditions. Finland is determined to put an end to this phenomenon,” Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said at the press conference when announcing the full closure of the border.

Officials: Norway, Estonia may close border crossings with Russia
Norwegian and Estonian officials reportedly said on Nov. 22 that they may follow the example of Finland and close their border crossings with Russia if the migration crisis allegedly orchestrated by Moscow escalates.

“In the current situation, it is necessary to close the entire eastern border. We have made this decision to protect Finland's national security against this Russian hybrid operation,” according to the Finnish Interior Minister Mari Rantanen.

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.

The ISW source complained that border officials in Finland had stopped most migrants from crossing into the country, and Russian authorities would now be forced to settle the migrants on Russian territory.

Reports of 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.

EU border agency to bolster Finland’s border
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) plans to deploy 50 border guard officers and other staff, as well as equipment, to Finland amid a growing migrant crisis on the border with Russia, the agency announced on Nov. 23.
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