In an assertive move against Moscow's alleged strategy of using illegal immigrants as a tool in hybrid warfare, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced the imminent closure of the last operational border crossing point with Russia. The announcement came from Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo, who informed that the closure will take effect on the night of Thursday and will last until at least December 13th.
Surge in Illegal Immigration
Finland, which grapples with a 1340-kilometer border with Russia, has witnessed a marked increase in the number of illegal immigrants at the Russian border since the start of November. In fact, since August, nearly 1000 migrants have managed to enter Finland through eastern border crossing points, all without the necessary visas.
Hybrid Operations and National Security
Ohisalo emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating that Finland is a direct target of Russia's hybrid operations, thereby posing a significant national security issue. Last week saw Finland closing all but one border crossing point with Russia, the farthest north, the Raja-Jooseppi outpost. In response to the escalating situation, the Finnish government announced that asylum seekers could now only apply for protection at ports and airports.
Prime Minister Marin expressed her thoughts on the influx of illegal immigrants, characterizing it more as an organized operation than a true emergency. She noted the remarkable ease with which migrants found their way to the remote Raja-Jooseppi border point. The problem, Marin remarked, is not just the number of immigrants but the phenomenon itself.
Relations between Finland and its eastern neighbor have been strained since Russia's renewed invasion of Ukraine. After Finland joined NATO in April, Russia vowed to implement countermeasures, hinting at the onset of a turbulent period for the two nations. The closure of the border crossing point is seen as a move to reinforce Finland's position against Russia's alleged tactics, marking a significant turning point in their diplomatic relations.