NewsIn face of Russian threat, Finland mulls closing all eastern crossings

In face of Russian threat, Finland mulls closing all eastern crossings

Petteri Orpo
Petteri Orpo
Images source: © Getty Images | Thierry Monasse
ed. TWA

7:38 AM EST, November 27, 2023

"If necessary, we can close all border crossings in the east," Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo announced on Sunday. The consideration comes as a response to Moscow's hybrid actions targeting Finland.

The Finnish government initially decided to close all crossings, except for the most remote one in the north, following the Russian border service's change in their earlier practice of not letting individuals through without the appropriate documents. The four busiest crossings in the southeast of the country, which see major traffic from St. Petersburg and Moscow, were closed for a duration of three months, until mid-February. In this region, a first section of border fence approximately 1.86 miles long was installed in Fall. More sections are planned for construction in the coming years. Additionally, three northern crossings have been temporarily closed until December 23rd.

On Sunday, the Lapland border guard division reported a calm scene at the border. Just before the closure of the only open crossing in Raja-Jooseppi, only three migrants managed to reach the Finnish border with intentions of applying for asylum. The day before, however, over 50 migrants had arrived, most of whom were young men claiming to be from Syria.

The Lapland crossing in Raja-Jooseppi, leading to Murmansk, remains open for only four hours each day during the winter season.

Moscow's Hybrid Operation

Finnish authorities have labeled the influx of illegal migrants from third countries, predominantly from the Middle East and Africa via Russia, as a hybrid operation. In the past weeks, over 800 people have crossed the Finnish border.

Reports from asylum seekers suggest that Russians are directing them towards Finland and a "travel package" through Russia costs about 2500 euros. Despite winter conditions, they receive bicycles to cover the short last stretch of their journey in the border zone, at prices ranging from 100 to 400 euros each.

The authorities kept one border crossing open due to legal concerns arising from the potential closure of the entire border.

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