Finland is officially closing all eight checkpoints on the Finnish-Russian border, Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo has announced.
The checkpoints will stop working from 00:00 on Thursday (30 November 2023) and will be closed for at least two weeks until 13 December 2023.
The decision was made because of the flow of illegal migrants from Russia, Finland’s Prime Minister explained. Most of the migrants that crossed the Finnish-Russian border are citizens of the Middle East and Africa.
Previously, 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.
The Finnish government called tensions on the Finnish-Russian border an element of the hybrid war that Russia wages against Finland and the West. During the lockdown, asylum applications will be directed to airports and ports.
At a government press conference on the new border measures, Petteri Orpo said that by closing the eastern border, the Finnish government “wants to bring Russia’s hybrid influencing activities under control as soon as possible.”
“Russia has caused this situation and it can also put an end to it,” Petteri Orpo said.
On 26 November, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said in an interview with Yle that the Finnish government would close the last border crossing with Russia “if necessary.”
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. On 23 November, Finland closed another three checkpoints on the Finnish-Russian border, leaving only its northernmost border crossing open.