Helsinki [Finland]: Finland has announced that it is completely closing four border crossings with Russia, Politico reported. Finland announced the decision shortly after accusing Russia of pushing undocumented migrants towards the frontier.
Finland Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said, ‘We have acted decisively and swiftly to ensure that the situation on the eastern border does not worsen,’ Politico reported, citing Finnish news outlet Iltalehti.
He said, ‘Amendments were made to the Border Guard Act during the last parliamentary term specifically for such situations. Now these tools have been used.’
Later, Finnish Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said, ‘The risk of the situation escalating poses a serious threat to public order and national security.’ The closures will be enforced until February 18, 2024. She made the remarks while addressing a press conference.
Finland’s decision comes amid a rise in the number of asylum-seekers crossing the border from Russia in recent weeks. Some other border crossings will continue to remain open.
Finland’s Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen said, ‘The government’s decision to close border crossing points is a determined response to instrumentalized immigration.’
Valtonen said, ‘Finland together with our partners and allies does not tolerate hybrid operations in any shape or form.’
Since September, approximately 280 asylum-seekers have crossed the eastern border into Finland from Russia, according to the Finnish Border Guard, Politico reported.
Speaking to Russian state-owned news agency TASS, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that Finland’s decision to close border crossings ‘creates new dividing lines in Europe,’ Politico reported.
Calling ‘Russia’s instrumentalisation of migrants shameful,’ European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said,’ I fully support the measures taken by Finland. And I thank the Finnish Border Guards for protecting our European borders.’
Earlier this week, the Finnish government announced that it was considering shutting the border with Russia, accusing Moscow of sparking a migration crisis by guiding asylum-seekers to the frontier and permitting them to enter its territory without valid travel documents, according to Politico report.
Ties between Russia and Finland have become strained since Moscow’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022. The war between Russia and Ukraine prompted Finland’s bid to join the NATO military alliance amid security concerns.