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Russia calls Finland's decision to restrict border crossings 'big mistake'

by The Kyiv Independent news desk November 17, 2023 10:04 PM 2 min read
An aerial view of a border crossing river named Vuoksi at the Finnish-Russian border in Imatra, Finland, on April 14, 2023. (Jakob Johannsen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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The Kremlin accused Finland of taking a path of "destroying bilateral relations" over Finland's decision to close some border crossings with Russia, the Russian state news agency TASS reported on Nov. 17.

"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 plans to close four of its nine crossings along its eastern border from Nov. 17–Feb. 18 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 1,340 kilometer-long border are the busiest points of entry between the two countries.

Orpo told Finnish news outlet Yle on Nov. 14 that Russian border guards have changed tactics and are now allowing people across the border without the necessary documents, and that the number of migrants without appropriate paperwork is increasing.

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 EU 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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