Finland charges Russia of attempting to undermine national stability through the promotion of unauthorized immigration.
Finland has announced that it will shut down four of its eight border crossings with Russia, citing an increase in asylum requests there and Moscow’s alleged destabilizing actions toward illegal migrants, primarily from Africa and the Middle East.
The border crossings in the southeast areas of Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra, and Niirala will close early on Saturday, according to a statement made on Thursday by Interior Minister Mari Rantanen.
With over 3,000 users each day, the crossings are often the main transport hubs between Finland and Russia.
According to the administration, starting on Saturday, anyone seeking asylum through Russia would need to submit their applications at two border crossings in the north.
The border restrictions coincide with rising hostilities between Finland and Russia, who share a border spanning more than 1,300 km (830 miles), stemming from Helsinki’s defense cooperation with the United States.
Finland ended its decades-long policy of military non-alignment and joined NATO in April following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
Russia declared it will retaliate with “countermeasures” that were not described.Since then, the Border Guard of Finland has observed an increase in unauthorized immigration, primarily from the Middle East and Africa. According to Finnish officials, Moscow is pushing people to travel to the border with Finland in order to request for asylum.
“These folks obviously receive assistance in order to cross the border. According to Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, this appears to have been a very deliberate choice on Tuesday.
“Maybe [Russian officials] are irritated by something in Finland’s activities,” Rantanen speculated.
Reacting to earlier allegations that Finland was considering a breakup, the Kremlin blamed Helsinki for the weakening of relations.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, stated on Wednesday, “We deeply regret that the Finnish leadership has chosen to deliberately move away from what used to be good relations.”
By 2026, Finland plans to have built a 200-kilometer (124-mile) barrier around a portion of the border.
Currently, modest wooden fences serve as the principal means of border security for Finland, largely serving to prevent animals from straying into neighboring countries.