Finnish Border Crisis: Russia Accused of Orchestrating Migrant Influx, Denies Allegations
Finland accuses Russia of intentionally sending migrants across its borders in response to increased defense cooperation with the US, prompting Finland to erect barriers. Russia denies the allegations.
Finland has accused Russia of intentionally sending migrants from the Middle East and Africa across its borders in response to Finland's decision to increase defense cooperation with the United States. However, Russia has denied these allegations. According to the Finnish Border Guard, around 300 migrants from Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Syria have entered Finland this week. In an effort to control the situation, Finland has erected razor-wire barriers at the border with Russia to prevent unrestricted entry. After two individuals managed to breach the barriers and enter Finland, border authorities announced plans to improve the barriers to prevent similar crossings.
Reports suggest that the migrants, many without proper documentation, have received assistance from Russian authorities to reach the heavily controlled border zone. Finnish and Russian media sources claim that most of the migrants arrived at the border zone on bicycles, which were provided and sold to them. Moscow has denied these claims and expressed its regret that Finland has chosen to distance itself from their previously good bilateral relations.
The Finland-Russia land border serves as the European Union's external frontier and spans a total of 832 miles (1,340 kilometers), mostly through dense forests in the south and rugged landscapes in the Arctic north. Currently, there are nine crossing points, with one dedicated to rail travel only. Recently, Finland has stated that it is becoming increasingly difficult to return asylum seekers who do not meet the criteria for protection. Over 500 asylum seekers, primarily from Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and Iraq, have arrived in Finland via Russia in the past two weeks. In response, Finland has closed half of its border crossings and accused Moscow of funneling migrants to its border. Russian authorities deny these allegations.
The Finnish President, Sauli Niinisto, has called for an EU-wide solution to address the issue and prevent uncontrollable entries into the passport-free Schengen area. Migrants entering Finland from Russia can now only request asylum at two of the remaining four crossing points on the border. The Finnish Prime Minister, Petteri Orpo, has stated that the government is prepared to take further action if necessary, but did not specify whether all remaining crossings on the border would be closed. The Finnish Border Guard has noted that some migrants arrived in Finland without originally intending to do so but were forced to seek asylum after Russian authorities closed the border gates behind them.
The Kremlin has lodged a formal protest over the partial border closure, claiming it reflects an anti-Russian stance. This situation is reminiscent of the migrant crisis in 2021 when Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia accused Belarus, a close ally of Russia, of artificially creating a migrant crisis on their borders. They claimed that Belarus was flying people in from the Middle East and Africa and attempting to push them across the frontier, an accusation that Belarus repeatedly denied.