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Finland reinforces areas around border crossing points

Near the Nuijamaa border crossing point. There are people on the Russian side by by the campfire.
Near the Nuijamaa border crossing point. There are people on the Russian side by by the campfire. Source: Finnish Border Guard

Finland's border guards start building temporary barrier fences along the national border to hold back illegal trespassing and to support order of regular traffic at the eastern crossing points that are left open.

Jouko Kinnunen, chief of the Vartius border crossing point, told Yle that the additional barrier fence along the national border helps to preserve order.

Only Vartius and Salla on Finland's eastern border permit regular traffic from Russia and only these two places accept asylum applications.

Cars going to Helsinki, Tampere, or Turku must pass by the closed southeast border crossings to reach Vartius, the southernmost open border crossing.

Frontex's slide explaining the situation in Finland Source: Frontex

On Saturday, 71 asylum seekers arrived at the eastern border crossing places, 67 via Vartius and four via the closed Nuijamaa crossing point where the temporary barrier has been already built.

"They have all been able to push through the barriers at some point and reach the Finnish side," southeast border guard deputy commander Jukka Lukkari told Finland's national broadcaster.

On Saturday evening, two more persons illegally crossed the border in Rautjärvi, South Karelia. All border crossers have sought international protection, Yle said.

Finland closed four southern border crossings (in red on the map above) on Saturday due to an alarming rise of third-country nationals arriving without documents.

Risto Kettunen. Source: Yle

Locals also regularly cross the border to Russia

Many Finns hurried to the opposite side the day before the border crossings closed, Yle said.

Samuli Murtonen, deputy commander of the North Karelia Border Guard, said that traffic increased immediately after the government announced the closure.

At least once a month, Risto Kettunen drives from Ilomantsi to Russia to refuel. "If my pension was better, I wouldn't go," he said.

Finish officials discuss the possibility of closing the eastern border completely

In the past, Russia has not allowed people to cross its external borders if they did not have valid documents.

The Finnish government has called Russia's new migrant-crossing policy a hybrid attack, and Defense Minister Antti Häkkänen said on Saturday that all border crossing points could be closed if necessary.

Finnish parliament defense committee head, Jukka Kopra, also proposed closing the entire eastern border. "The incidents indicate an orchestrated entry," he said and advised preparing to close the eastern border promptly.

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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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