Finland to close four border crossing points with Russia night before Saturday

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The Nuijamaa border crossing in Finland.
The Nuijamaa border crossing in Finland. Source: SCANPIX/REUTERS/LEHTIKUVA/VESA MOILANE

The Finnish government gave increased migrant flow as the reason for its Thursday decision and said that Russian border guards are intentionally letting people who lack the proper travel documents through.

Finland's Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said that the government wanted to react forcefully to the new situation.

"We are not dealing with an emergency, but rather an organized operation. Russian border guard authorities have changed their pattern of activity."

Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen said that Finland will be closing four border points and concentrating the processing of asylum requests in two crossings at Salla and Vartios.

The border crossings to be closed are those of Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala in southeastern Finland. The Vartius, Salla, Kuusamo and Raja-Joosepi border points with Russia will remain open.

"Crossing the border will not be possible at those locations," Rantanen said.

The border points will remain closed until February 18, 2024.

"The nature and extent of decisions will be evaluated regularly. We stand ready to take additional measures, while we are also willing to reverse the measures should these activities cease," the interior minister explained.

Markku Hassinen from the Finnish Border Guard said that the crossings will be closed physically to render crossing the border impossible.

The border guard spokesperson said that the Finnish authorities have been in contact with their Russian counterparts but so far talks have not yielded results.

Hassinen said that while Finland and Russia have been in touch regionally and on the level of capitals, the Russian authorities simply say they have no cause to keep third country citizens from crossing into Finland.

More asylum seekers than previously have arrived at Finland's border with Russia in recent days as authorities on the Russian side are allowing people who do not have the necessary travel documents to cross the border regardless. People from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Turkey and Somalia have been among those seeking asylum recently.

Border crossings in southeastern Finland registered 75 asylum seekers Wednesday, which had grown to 280 by noon on Thursday.

Russia carried out a similar operation on the Finnish border during the 2015 migration crisis when 2,000 asylum seekers arrived from the east.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said Wednesday that Russia's decision to allow asylum seekers to enter Finland might be the consequence of Finland's Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with the U.S.


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Editor: Mark Gerassimenko, Marcus Turovski

Source: Yle/HS

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