On November 24 at 12:00 a.m local time the authorities in Finland said it will close three more border crossing points with Russia, leaving only one checkpoint open in the Arctic region. This northernmost checkpoint, Raja-Jooseppi, is located in a remote arctic location which will make it even harder for refugees and asylum seekers to cross into the EU. This measure will remain in place until December 23, 2023.
According to experts in Helsinki, this is their valid response to Russia’s “weaponization of refugees and migrants” since 2022, where hundreds of undocumented foreigners have been arriving in Finland in recent months. This includes people from across the Middle East and various countries in Africa.
Helsinki also suspects that this type of "hybrid warfare" by Russia is a response to Finland joining the NATO alliance in May 2022. Finnish Prime Minster Petteri Orpo recently said that Russia is engaged in “hybrid warfare” by transferring undocumented foreign nationals into Finland. Prime Minister Orpo said during a press conference, “we want to send Russia a message: this must stop”
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said this week that Finland should have put forward its complaints, and that Russia would be willing to reach an agreement with Finland over the border issue.
The EU’s border agency Frontex has made commitments to give Helsinki assistance in the near-future to deal with the current situation. The current changes to Finland's borders with Russia are to remain in place until February 2024, where another review will take place. Other Baltic countries will now be keeping a close eye on their own border crossings with Russia, as Estonia has also claimed this week that Russia was pushing illegal foreign nationals into the country.
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