Finland has closed a number of border crossings with Russia after a large number of asylum seekers crossed into Finland in the past two weeks.
According to Reuters, more than 500 migrants, most of them from Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iraq, crossed the border during this period.
The Finnish government accuses Russia of sending migrants across the border in a deliberate move to destabilize, in retaliation for the country’s joining NATO.
Moscow denies this.
– Border guards are involved
According to Reuters, the head of the Legal Department of the Finnish Border Guard, Tommy Kivinjori, said that the migrants were transported in cars and trucks to the border area, and then they were given bicycles on which they crossed.
– It is very likely that the Russian authorities were heavily involved in their transfer. He added to the news agency that Russian border guards were likely also involved.
In an interview with Finnish Iltalehti Presidential candidate and former prime minister Alexander Stubb, who directed diplomacy toward Russia for a number of years, says he believes it’s all part of Putin’s plan.
– I think there are two reasons why Russia did this. The first is that they will create fear and instability in Finland, Stubb adds Iltalehti.
However, he believes Putin has another, more sinister motive:
– Russia is trying to blame Finland for the closure. After the Russian presidential elections, Russia may have to take new steps in the war in Ukraine, Stapp says.
He points to the high death toll among Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
When Vladimir Putin announced the mobilization of 300,000 men for war against Ukraine in September 2022, huge queues formed at border crossings with Russia.
Finland was no exception.
Stapp believes Putin has precisely this in mind now.
– If the borders were closed after that, Russians would not be able to flee to Finland, he says.
He follows the situation
Finland is now considering completely closing its borders with Russia, and has closed most of its border points.
Only two remote border stations, Vartius and Sala, remain open.
Joko Kinnunen, head of the Vartius border station, told Reuters that 16 migrants braved temperatures of minus 14 degrees and crossed the border on Tuesday afternoon.
He told Reuters that a group of women who crossed the border were very frozen.
At Salé station, 41 migrants crossed the border on Tuesday.
Justice Minister Emily Inger Mehl (Sp) says that so far there has been no increase in border crossings from Russia via Storskog in Finnmark in the same way as Finland has seen.
– We are following the situation closely, and it may be appropriate for us to close the borders at short notice if necessary, she told NTB last Thursday.
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