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Finland to extend Russian border closure indefinitely

Finland extends its border closure with Russia indefinitely and adds ports to its travel ban list, in response to Moscow’s tactic of weaponizing migration by directing undocumented migrants to its border.
The border checkpoint ‘Vartius’ between Finland and Russia. Photo: Jarmo Nuotio / Yle
Finland to extend Russian border closure indefinitely

Finland has indefinitely extended the closure of its border with Russia and added several ports to its list of prohibited travel locations, the government announced on 4 April.

Finland, which joined NATO recently, closed its 13 land border entry points with Russia late last year following a surge in migrant crossings from its neighbor. The Finnish government accused Moscow of deliberately directing undocumented migrants to its eastern border in an attempt to sow instability, a tactic often referred to as weaponizing migration, as a response to Finland’s NATO accession. Russia has denied these allegations.

In February, Finland announced that the border closures would extend until 14 April, but Finland’s Interior Minister Mari Rantanen stated that Helsinki had not observed any significant changes in the situation in recent months.

“Finnish authorities see this as a long-term situation. We have not seen anything this spring that would lead us to conclude that the situation has changed meaningfully,” Rantanen said, according to Sky News.

Last year, Finland irked Russia by joining NATO in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, abandoning its long-standing military neutrality and also signing a defense pact with the US. Despite the border closure, some asylum seekers continue to arrive from Russia, with the government anticipating a significant increase in numbers with the arrival of spring and warmer temperatures.

There are hundreds and possibly thousands of people close to Finland’s border on the Russian side that could be instrumentalized against Finland,” Rantanen said, according to Reuters.

Reuters notes that he used “instrumentalized” to describe the alleged maneuver by Moscow of directing migrants to the frontier, aiming to pressure Finland and the European Union over their support for Ukraine.

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