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Finland will close last Russian border crossing if necessary — PM

By AFP - Nov 27,2023 - Last updated at Nov 27,2023

Finnish Border Guards escort two migrants at the Raja-Jooseppi international border crossing station in Inari, northern Finland, on Monday (AFP photo)

HELSINKI — Finland is ready to close its last border crossing with Russia if Moscow keeps pushing migrants across, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said on Monday as migrants continued to make the treacherous journey through the Arctic.

“We have closed all our border stations on the eastern border except for one and we are ready to close the last one if needed,” Orpo told reporters in Helsinki.

“Finland is protecting the European Union’s external border and NATO’s border. We will not let this phenomenon continue,” he added.

Finland has seen a surge in asylum seekers entering without a visa across its 1,300 kilometre border with Russia, with around 800 crossing since August.

The migrants are predominantly from the Middle East and Africa.

This has prompted Finland to close all but its northernmost border crossing, in the remote Murmansk region in the Arctic, over the past two weeks.

Finnish officials claim Russia is attempting to destabilise its Nordic neighbour, with Orpo last week calling it “a systematic and organised action by the Russian authorities”.

In April, Moscow warned it would take “countermeasures... in tactical and strategic terms” after branding Finland’s decision to join NATO as an “assault on our security”.

Since November 23, the only border crossing that remains open is the Raja-Jooseppi station.

Migrants continued to cross there this weekend, with a total of 60 arriving on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, according to the Finnish Border Guard. 

Finland is obligated by international law to ensure that migrants can seek asylum, and the availability of locations can only be limited in exceptional circumstances, according to Finnish legal experts.

 

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