Finnish authorities have taken measures to address the increasing number of undocumented migrants crossing the border with Russia, as barriers topped with barbed wire have been erected at selected crossing points. The move aims to better manage the flow of migrants entering Finland, particularly from the Middle East and Africa. While only a few dozen migrants arrived in September and October, the number surged to approximately 600 in November, raising concerns about border security and the proper processing of individuals without valid visas or documentation.
Tomi Tirkkonen, deputy commander of the Kainuu border guard district in eastern Finland, emphasized the necessity of these measures to maintain order and ensure the security of legal border traffic. With two of Finland’s nine crossing points falling under Tirkkonen’s district, which monitors the 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia, Finland plays a crucial role in safeguarding the European Union’s external border and NATO’s north-eastern flank.
However, the Kremlin has expressed regret over Finland’s decision to close certain checkpoints and has rebuffed allegations that Russia has encouraged the influx of migrants as a means to punish Finland for joining NATO. Finnish authorities have accused Russian border officials of assisting migrants without proper documentation to reach the border zone, thereby exacerbating the situation.
Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen stated that Russia is instrumentalizing migrants as part of its “hybrid warfare” against Finland. Valtonen underscored the existence of evidence indicating that Russian border authorities have not only allowed individuals without proper documentation to reach Finland but have also actively aided their journey. These developments are seen as a departure from the previous cooperative and friendly relations between Finland and Russia, as Finland recently joined NATO after decades of military non-alignment.
The Finnish government’s decision to close four busy Russia border crossings in south-eastern Finland last week was motivated by suspicions of foul play by Russian border officials. As the situation unfolds, Finland remains committed to ensuring border security, managing the influx of migrants, and addressing the concerns raised by the Kremlin. The erection of barriers at the border serves as a visible symbol of Finland’s determination to exercise control while upholding its obligations as a member of the European Union and NATO.
Despite the objections from the Kremlin, Finland stands firm in its resolve to handle the situation effectively and protect its borders. The ongoing dialogue between Finnish and Russian authorities will be crucial in addressing the concerns raised and finding a mutually acceptable resolution to this complex issue.