In response to a recent surge in migrants and asylum seekers from Russia, Finland has enacted measures to close most of its border crossings, guarding the external boundaries of the European Union and NATO. This decision has garnered support from Sweden, with Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo defining the situation as a national security crisis. The implications of these actions are viewed as a Russian hybrid attack.
Closure of Border Crossings
Over the past two weeks, Finnish authorities have closed all border crossings with Russia, save for one in the remote northern Murmansk region in the Arctic. This course of action was triggered when approximately 800 migrants crossed the 1,300 km long border since August. Finnish officials assert that Russian authorities are systematically and deliberately working to destabilize the country, with Prime Minister Orpo labelling these actions as deliberate and coordinated.
Russian Threats and Finland's NATO Membership
It is reported that in April, Moscow threatened to take retaliatory measures against Finland due to its decision to join NATO. Currently, only one border control point, Raja-Jooseppi, remains operational. Despite the closure of the borders, the flow of migrants did not cease, with another 60 migrants arriving at the remaining open control point over the weekend.
Finnish legal experts highlight that under international law, the country is obliged to ensure that migrants can apply for asylum, and their entry can only be restricted under exceptional circumstances. The European Union is grappling with an increase in both legal and illegal arrivals by migrants, causing some member states to temporarily reintroduce border controls within the Schengen zone. In response to the surge of migrants arriving at various border stations, Finland has temporarily closed all but one of its eight passenger crossings to Russia.
Registration of Arrivals
The Finnish government has decided to process people arriving across the eastern border in registration centers. President Sauli Niinistö has commented on the increase in the number of undocumented asylum seekers from Russia to Finland. The government has yet to decide how border crossings will be restricted in a concrete way.