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Finland fortifies border with Russia as tensions rise

The Finnish military arrives at the border checkpoint ‘Vartius’ between Finland and Russia, one of the four remaining operational points. The Finnish authorities closed the other four checkpoints earlier this week due to an influx of migrants.
The border checkpoint ‘Vartius’ between Finland and Russia. Photo: Jarmo Nuotio / Yle
Finland fortifies border with Russia as tensions rise

At the Finnish border checkpoint ‘Vartius’ with Russia, military personnel have begun erecting barriers due to an influx of migrants, as the Finnish public broadcaster Yle reported. The crossing is temporarily closed. 

“Protective structures, or temporary barriers, are being built near the border checkpoints. This measure aims to ensure the functioning of the border crossing point,” stated head of the Vartius crossing, Captain Jouko Kinnunen.

The four border checkpoints in the southeast of Finland are closed. Photo: Yle

Border officials reported that on 18 November, Saturday, 67 individuals, predominantly Somalis, sought asylum in Finland. However, it was discovered that Russian border guards pushed a group of 20 individuals towards Finland at the ‘Vartius’ checkpoint against their will. Migrants arrived half an hour past the station’s closing time. 

“In this situation we had to let these people into Finland because Russia would not take them back,” Captain Kinnunen, told Finnish channel MTV.

It has been noted, according to Itlalehti, that many asylum seekers arrive at the border on bicycles, with some adult men using children’s bikes. To prevent the entry of illegal migrants, on 9 November, the Finnish Border Guard decided not to allow Russian cyclists into the country.

Migrants arrive at Finnish border crossing point Vartius. Photo: Antibesedka Kostomuksha via Telegram

European Union border agency Frontex told Reuters it would send officers to Finland to help safeguard the frontier.

On the night of 18 November, Finland closed four out of eight border crossing points with Russia until 18 February 2024 in response to the surge in migration.

The Finnish government has accused Russia of funneling migrants to the crossings in retaliation for its decision to increase defense cooperation with the United States, an assertion dismissed by the Kremlin.

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