NewsRussia's immigration law sparks fears of Finnish refugee crisis

Russia's immigration law sparks fears of Finnish refugee crisis

Finnish border guards have their hands full. Despite the closure of borders, immigrants are still flowing into the country.
Finnish border guards have their hands full. Despite the closure of borders, immigrants are still flowing into the country.
Images source: © Getty Images | Roni Rekomaa
5:38 AM EST, December 1, 2023

A proposed law regarding immigrants, unveiled by the Russian Ministry of the Interior, raised concerns in Helsinki. There is a widespread fear amongst Finns that the adoption of this law could lead to a refugee crisis in Finland. The law could cause more people to attempt to cross the already closed border.

In recent months, Finland has faced a border crisis similar to what was previously seen on the borders between Belarus and Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. An influx of immigrants has begun to migrate from Russia to Finland.

In the past few days, the situation has escalated. The Finns responded initially by closing four border crossings in the eastern part of the country before proceeding to block the entire land border.

Russia, which has been accused of deliberately sending immigrants to the border to create chaos in Europe, is now introducing new regulations. The State Duma is set to discuss the bill drafted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow.

The proposed law will require immigrants who entered Russia legally on a visa but overstayed its validity, or the limitation period for their residency permit, to join the Russian army.

General Pekka Toveri, a former chief of Finnish Intelligence and current Finnish MP, suggests that the law isn't primarily designed to regulate illegal immigrants in Russia. He argues that the potential to conscript additional forces into the Russian Federation army may be a more valuable motivation for the initiative.

General Pekka Toveri Believes New Russian Law Could Harm Finland

The explanation given by military officials implies that immigrants would have to legitimize their status, accept citizenship, and perform military service, or else leave the country. Moreover, immigrants, including those who are still waiting for their residency applications to be considered, will not have the right to drive in Russia.

According to the "Iltalehti" newspaper, Toveri fears that this legal initiative will negatively impact Finland. He proposes that Russian authorities are seeking mechanisms to force foreign nationals to join the Russian army. Those who resist this course of action could be forcefully sent to the Finnish border.

Finland, which chose to forgo its principle of neutrality due to threats posed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, shares a border with Russia that spans 807 miles. This presents a challenging area to monitor. As such, the closure of the borders in November is largely symbolic.

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