Finland closes its border with Russia again

Finland closes its border with Russia again

When they announced on Tuesday their intention to reopen a small part of the Finnish border with Russia, the Finnish authorities declared that they would remain on the lookout: if Moscow resumed the transport of migrants, they would close it again. Two days later, they announced plans to close it, saying dozens of migrants were arriving.

“Illegal entries at the Finnish border immediately resumed,” Finnish Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said at a press conference on Thursday. “It is imperative to close the eastern border.”

They said all crossings would close Friday evening and remain closed until January 14.

Friction along the 830-mile border between Finland and Russia has become the flashpoint in the strained relations the two countries have had since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and the accession of the Finland to NATO earlier this year.

Finland gradually closed its border from mid-November and closed all its land crossings to travelers at the end of the month, after accusing Russia of helping hundreds of asylum seekers, mainly from from Africa and the Middle East, to reach the border with the aim of destabilizing Finland.

Finnish authorities have said a mass influx of refugees would strain their reception facilities, polarize society and increase the risk of the arrival of criminals or “radicalized people”.

Russian authorities have called the allegations unfounded.

Finnish public opinion largely supported the closures, according to polls, although some left-wing opposition politicians objected that Finland was not meeting its international protection obligations.

But after weeks of tight security, Finland announced Tuesday that the influx had stopped and that it would reopen the border to check whether Russia had ended its “operation.”

The border will close again on Friday from 8 p.m. local time.

Poland and the Baltics have also accused Belarus in the past of helping migrants enter, using it as a political weapon. Frontex, the European Union’s border agency, has deployed staff to ensure security at the Finnish border. The agency said security on the border between Russia and Finland, part of the bloc, was “a matter of collective European concern.”

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Eric D. Eilerman

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