A cool reception at Finland-Russia border

A cool reception at Finland-Russian border

NO ENTRY: All border crossings have been closed between Finland and Russia Photo credit: CC/Jaakko.kulta

Finland will introduce a temporary law restricting applications for international protection from asylum-seekers who enter the country via its 1,340-kilometre border with Russia.

The measure is a response to the increase in what the Helsinki government termed a “Russian hybrid attack.”

Once in force, the legislation could be introduced for a maximum of a month at any one time, while allowing Finland to keep the border open to other traffic.

Speaking to the media on March 15, Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said it was increasingly obvious that the government needed to be able to control the country’s national border “and its immediate vicinity.”

Orpo went on to explain that the law would be applied in situations where it was essential to neutralise efforts to exercise influence “in a way that could endanger Finland’s sovereignty or national security.”

The country’s relations with Russia were formerly peaceful and unstrained, but these cooled after the Ukraine invasion in February 2022. Following Finland’s decision to join Nato in April 2023 after decades of military non-alignment, Moscow said there would be “countermeasures.”.

Finland closed four of its eight border crossings with Russia in November 2023, before blocking the rest by the end of the month. After a partial relaxation of the closures, the entire border was again closed on December 14.

Around 1,300 asylum seekers from Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan Yemen, Somalia and Syria arrived in Finland via its eastern border in November and December 2023 as well as January 2024, according to official figures.  This spike has been stage-managed by its neighbour, Helsinki maintains.

“We must be prepared for the situation to worsen as spring arrives,” Orpo warned on March 15.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.