Finland has announced the closure of its last border crossing with Russia, marking a significant hardening in the Nordic country's border policy. The move comes amidst a historical context of relationships between the two nations and the current political tension in the region, particularly following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing security concerns in Europe. The decision could have implications for mobility between the two countries, bilateral diplomatic relations, and regional security dynamics.
Sealing the Border
Finland will close its entire border with Russia for at least two weeks following the recent influx of hundreds of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Horn of Africa. Finnish Prime Minister, Petteri Orpo, announced on Tuesday that the Raja-Jooseppi border post, the northernmost of the eight between the two countries and the only one still operational, will also be closed from next Thursday. "This is about Russian interference activities, and we do not accept that," stated Orpo at a press conference.
Implications of the Closure
The closure of this border crossing is a significant event, given the historical context of relations between the two countries and the current political tension in the region. The measure may have implications for both mobility between the two nations and bilateral diplomatic relations. It could also affect the regional security dynamics, particularly in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the resulting security concerns in Europe.
Reaction from Russia
Reacting to the Finnish government's decision, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Grushkó, described it as "an irrational act." Orpo justified the closure of the last border crossing in the Finnish Arctic as a "necessary and proportionate measure," pointing out that intelligence services had warned that "Russian authorities" were still encouraging the arrival of more asylum seekers and several groups were currently heading north.