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Finland will close its entire border with Russia over migrant concerns

by Joshua Brown
8 comments
Border Closure

Finland has announced the closure of its last remaining border crossing with Russia due to concerns that Moscow is using migrants as part of what is termed “hybrid warfare” to destabilize Finland following its entry into NATO. This decision comes after Finland had already shut seven of the eight checkpoints along its 1,340-kilometer border with Russia earlier this month, in response to a surge in the arrival of migrants from the Middle East and Africa. Helsinki has accused Moscow of directing these migrants toward the Finnish border, spanning from thick forests in the south to the rugged Arctic landscape in the north.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo stated, “The government has decided to close all the crossing points on the entire eastern border,” emphasizing that Finland perceives this situation as “exceptional” and blames Moscow for orchestrating it. He asserted, “Finland has a profound reason to suspect that the entry (of migrants) is organized by a foreign state. This deals with Russia’s influencing operations, and we won’t accept it. We don’t accept any attempt to undermine our national security. Russia has caused this situation and it can also stop it.”

The complete border closure is expected to last at least two weeks, with the possibility of reopening one crossing point afterward. This means that migrants arriving from Russia will only be able to seek asylum upon reaching Finnish airports or harbors. However, currently, there is no air or passenger boat traffic between Russia and Finland, making these options unavailable.

Russia has denied encouraging migrants to enter Finland and expressed regret over the Finnish border closures. Finnish authorities report that approximately 1,000 migrants without visas or valid documentation have arrived at the border since August, with about 900 of them arriving just this month. These asylum-seekers come from countries including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

Notably, many of these migrants are young men in their 20s and 30s, but there are also families with children and women among them. Most arrived at the border zone on bicycles, reportedly provided and sold to them. The governor of Russia’s northern Murmansk region indicated that there were at least 400 people waiting on the Russian side of the border, with the number expected to increase as Finland continues to close crossing points.

Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen has used the term “hybrid warfare” to describe Russia’s alleged strategy of instrumentalizing migrants to destabilize Finland. Before joining NATO, Finnish officials had warned of potential Russian efforts to destabilize the country, including cyberattacks and facilitating migrant arrivals, similar to what occurred in Finland during the winter of 2015-16.

It’s worth noting that some Western political analysts believe that Russia’s motive may be to create chaos on the EU’s external borders. For years, both Finnish and Russian border authorities had checked for proper documents at the border. However, Finnish officials have observed changes in the checks conducted by Russian guards, allowing foreigners closer to the border.

In response to these developments, Finland has taken decisive measures to safeguard its national security and manage the influx of migrants from its eastern border with Russia.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Border Closure

What is the reason behind Finland’s decision to close its border with Russia?

Finland has closed its border with Russia due to concerns that Moscow is using migrants as part of “hybrid warfare” to destabilize Finland following its entry into NATO.

How many border checkpoints has Finland closed, and why?

Finland has closed seven of the eight checkpoints along its 1,340-kilometer border with Russia. This decision was made in response to a surge in the arrival of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, with Helsinki accusing Moscow of directing these migrants toward the Finnish border.

What is the duration of the complete border closure, and is there a possibility of reopening?

The complete border closure is expected to last at least two weeks. After this period, there is a possibility that one crossing point may be reopened, as per the Finnish government’s announcement.

How will the border closure affect migrants arriving from Russia?

Migrants arriving from Russia will only be able to seek asylum upon reaching Finnish airports or harbors. However, currently, there is no air or passenger boat traffic between Russia and Finland, making these options unavailable.

What countries are the asylum-seekers arriving at the Finnish border from?

The asylum-seekers arriving at the Finnish border come from countries including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

What allegations has Finland made against Russia regarding this situation?

Finland has accused Russia of orchestrating the entry of migrants into its territory, referring to this as part of Russia’s “influencing operations” and alleging that it undermines Finland’s national security.

How has Russia responded to Finland’s accusations and border closures?

Russia has denied encouraging migrants to enter Finland and expressed regret over the border closures. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova argued that Helsinki should have sought a mutually acceptable solution or received an explanation.

Why does Finland believe that Russia is using migrants as part of “hybrid warfare”?

Finnish officials, including Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen, have used the term “hybrid warfare” to describe Russia’s alleged strategy of instrumentalizing migrants to destabilize Finland. This belief stems from concerns that Russia could seek ways to destabilize Finland in retaliation for its entry into NATO, including cyberattacks and facilitating migrant arrivals, similar to past occurrences.

Are there concerns about Russia’s motives beyond migrant arrivals?

Some Western political analysts believe that Russia’s motive may be to create chaos on the EU’s external borders, extending beyond the immediate migrant issue.

How has the border-checking process at the Finnish-Russian border changed recently?

Finnish officials have noted changes in the checks conducted by Russian border guards, allowing foreigners closer to the border, which was not the case previously.

What measures has Finland taken to manage the situation at its eastern border with Russia?

Finland has taken decisive measures to safeguard its national security, including closing border checkpoints and responding to the influx of migrants from its eastern border with Russia.

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8 comments

EUObserver November 29, 2023 - 4:18 am

Interesting how they mention “hybrid warfare.” Reminds me of similar tactics Russia’s been accused of elsewhere.

Reply
BorderWatcher November 29, 2023 - 6:34 am

The border situation’s getting pretty heated. Finland’s taking no chances with its national security.

Reply
FinnishPride November 29, 2023 - 11:14 am

Finland’s not messing around with its border security. Wonder if this will have diplomatic repercussions.

Reply
InfoGeek88 November 29, 2023 - 4:13 pm

So, Finland accuses Moscow of guiding migrants, huh? That’s intense. What’s Russia’s side of the story, I wonder?

Reply
CuriousCat November 29, 2023 - 8:05 pm

I can’t believe they’re saying Russia’s using migrants as a weapon. What’s the evidence for this “hybrid warfare” stuff?

Reply
Alex_123 November 29, 2023 - 11:39 pm

finland closin its border wit russia, sayn its coz rusia use migrnts 4 hybri warfare. a big problm, i thnk!

Reply
SeriousTalker November 30, 2023 - 1:34 am

Wow, this is a major development. Finland’s concerns about Russia’s role in migrant arrivals seem serious. Wonder how it’ll play out.

Reply
GrammarNazi November 30, 2023 - 2:45 am

Need better proofreading on this article, lots of typos and errors. Makes it hard to read seriously.

Reply

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