Finland will close this Friday evening and until February 18, the four main border crossings with Russia… A decision which follows the unusual arrival of undocumented migrants in recent days. According to Helsinki, this is a malicious operation: the Finnish government accuses Moscow of manipulating asylum seekers for the purposes of destabilization, in retaliation for its membership of NATO.
with our regional correspondent, Carlotta Morteo
Usually, only around ten asylum seekers present themselves at the Russian-Finnish border each month. But in a few days, 280 undocumented people, all from the Middle East or Africa, arrived, on foot and by bike.
The figures are low, nothing alarming in itself, but this sudden influx awakens memories of the winter of 2015-2016, when 1,700 asylum seekers crossed the border, while a tacit agreement between Russia and the Finland according to which each country filters the passage on its own and only lets out people with valid papers.
Read alsoFinland welcomes Ukrainian refugees and Russians fleeing Moscow politics
For the Prime Minister, Petteri Orpo, “it is clear that these people are being helped, escorted, or transported.” For the right and far-right coalition, closing the border also makes it possible to send a message to candidates for exile likely to be manipulated by propaganda or false information: Finland is closed, a border wall is under construction and winter has already started well.
The country does not rule out the possibility of a scenario that would resemble what happened at the border in 2021 between the Poland and Belaruswhen hundreds of migrants froze to death in the forests.
Besides theFinland’s entry into NATO in April 2023what may have triggered this act of destabilization according to President Sauli Niinisto, is perhaps the recent signing of a bilateral agreement with the United States, which facilitates the deployment and training of American soldiers on the Finnish territory.
Read alsoDefending Finland, more than a policy, a state of mind
The four border crossing points (Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala) will be closed until February 18. Binational citizens and Russians living in Finland will therefore not be able to transit from one country to another during the end-of-year holidays.