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Officials: Norway, Estonia may close border crossings with Russia

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 23, 2023 9:13 AM 2 min read
A photo shows the Storskog border crossing station at the Norwegian-Russian border near Elvenes, Norway, on July 4, 2023. (James Brooks / AFP via Getty Images)
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Norway may follow the example of Finland and close its land border crossing with Russia "if necessary," Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said on Nov. 22, as cited by Norwegian TV2 channel.

On the same day, Estonia's interior minister accused Russia of organizing "a hybrid attack operation" to bring migrants to its border, adding that Estonia has prepared to close border crossings if "the migration pressure from Russia escalates," Reuters reported.

"Unfortunately, there are many signs that Russian border officials and possibly other agencies are involved," Estonia's Lauri Laanemets said.

"Quite frankly, (the) ongoing migration pressure on Europe's eastern border is a hybrid attack operation."

Speaking at a press conference, Støre reportedly said the Norwegian government is closely following the situation on border crossings in both Finland and Estonia.

The only legal land border crossing between Norway and Russia is called Storskog and is located in the far northeastern part of Norway.

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Moscow’s hybrid warfare tactics on the Finnish-Russian border are likely part of a broader goal to destabilize NATO countries near Russia’s borders, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its Nov. 20 report.

Finland announced on Nov. 22 that it would close all but the northernmost crossing on its border with Russia due to a rising number of asylum seekers.

The measure will take effect on Nov. 24. It follows Helsinki's accusations that Russia is orchestrating the influx of migrants as retribution for Finland's entry into NATO, which Moscow has denied.

According to the Finnish Border Guard, some 600 migrants without proper documentation arrived in the country in November compared to a few dozen in the previous months. These migrants are foreigners who pass through Russia from third countries, such as Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Somalia.

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.

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