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Finland Shuts Last Border Crossing with Russia Amid Political Tensions

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BNN Correspondents
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Finland Shuts Last Border Crossing with Russia Amid Political Tensions

Finland, a NATO ally, has taken the drastic step of shuttering its last remaining border crossing with Russia. The Finnish government, led by Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, took the decision amid escalating political tensions and suspicions of Moscow's alleged use of migrants to destabilize the Nordic nation, in what has been dubbed as a 'hybrid warfare'. The closure affects a substantial 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) stretch of the border and is set to last until at least December 13, 2023.

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Finnish Response to Perceived 'Hybrid Attack'

A surge in the number of migrants arriving at Finland's eastern border, perceived by Finnish officials as a calculated move by Russia, triggered the closure. The border clampdown, seen as a response to this 'hybrid attack', has garnered widespread national support, with 75% of Finnish residents backing the decision. The situation has elevated concerns in neighboring Estonia, where the defense minister has labeled it a 'state-orchestrated operation by Russia'.

Impact on Finnish-Russian Relations

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This closure marks a remarkable shift in Finland's traditionally cautious approach towards Russia, highlighting a crucial turning point in their relations. The decision has also caused inconvenience for Russians residing in Finland, limiting their ability to visit relatives back home. The timing of the border closure, coinciding with the anniversary of the Finnish-Russian Winter War, has further influenced attitudes towards Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Lithuania's Stance

While Finland has taken a firm stand, Lithuania, another neighbor of Russia, has not yet declared any plans to close its border with the Kaliningrad region of Russia. This leaves the Vaalimaa checkpoint as the only operational passage for cargo trains between Finland and Russia.

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