Finland announced the complete closure of four border crossings with Russia on Thursday, shortly after accusing Moscow of pushing undocumented migrants towards the border.
“We acted decisively and quickly to ensure that the situation on the eastern border does not worsen,” Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said, according to Finnish newspaper Iltalehti. “During the last legislature, changes were made to the Border Guard Act specifically for such situations. Now these tools have been used.
Finnish Interior Minister Mari Rantanen later told a news conference that “the risk of escalation of the situation poses a serious threat to public order and national security,” adding that the Closures – which begin Friday evening – will be applied until February 18, 2024.
Finland’s decision comes as a growing number of asylum seekers have crossed the Russian border in recent weeks. Some other border crossings will remain open.
“The government’s decision to close border crossing points is a determined response to exploited immigration,” said Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen. “Finland, as well as its partners and allies, do not tolerate hybrid operations in any form.”
According to Finnish border guards, around 280 asylum seekers have crossed Finland’s eastern border from Russia since September.
Earlier this week, the Finnish government said it was considering closing the border with Russia, accusing Moscow of triggering a migration crisis by guiding asylum seekers to the border and allowing them to enter its territory without Valid travel documents.
Finland’s thoughts on moving the border have not gone down well in Russia, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying on Wednesday that Moscow “deeply regrets” Finland’s decision.
Tensions between the two countries have become increasingly tense since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, prompting Finland to offer to join the NATO military alliance amid security concerns.