In a bold move, the Finnish government announced on Tuesday that it would disallow any asylum applications at the Finnish-Russian border, in response to the escalating influx of undocumented asylum seekers from Russia. Finland lays the blame squarely on Russia, accusing it of deliberately allowing this surge to put pressure on Finnish authorities. The Finnish Interior Minister, Mari Rantanen, emphasized that this was a matter of national security, not a change in asylum or immigration policy.
Raja-Jooseppi Border Crossing Closure
The Raja-Jooseppi border crossing will be shut down starting Thursday night and will remain so for two weeks until December 13. During this period, only Finnish airports and ports will be accepting asylum applications. Finland had previously considered closing the entire eastern border last week, yet was unsure of the legality of such a move.
Russia has yet to officially respond to Tuesday afternoon's decision. However, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov expressed disappointment over Finland distancing itself from what was once a cordial relationship. Russia has also hinted at countermeasures in response to Finland's NATO membership since April.
Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer border with Russia and has nine border crossings. Although the traffic at the Norwegian border crossing at Storskog hasn't seen an increase, the Finnish government is prepared to close the border if necessary and is closely monitoring the situation. Estonia and Sweden have also accused Russia of using migrants to exert pressure on Europe's eastern border, with Estonia experiencing attempts by migrants to cross the border and Sweden fearing potential boat refugees from Russia's Kaliningrad as part of destabilization attempts.