immigration /

Finland-Russia Border Will Remain Closed for an Additional Month

Finland has accused Russia of encouraging immigrants to illegally cross the border

Finland-Russia Border Will Remain Closed for an Additional Month

Finland will keep its border with Russia closed for an additional month, citing concerns about national security.

The Finnish government believes Moscow is threatening its security by sending undocumented migrants to the border. 

Approximately 1,300 migrants have arrived in Finland after crossing from Russia since September. The spike in illegal immigration prompted the government to shut down the 830-mile border in November. Although two security checkpoints were temporarily reopened, all eight security checkpoints on the border have been closed since Dec. 15.

Asylum seekers arriving by boat or airplane were still permitted to enter the country. 

Interior Minister Mari Rantanen announced that the closures will now remain in effect until Feb. 11. The only expectation will be the northernmost area at Raja-Jooseppi.

“There are people in nearby areas waiting for the border to open,” said Rantanen at a press conference in Helsinki.

According to AP News, “The migrants who arrived in the later months of last year were mainly from the Middle East and Africa - particularly from Syria, Somalia and Yemen - and the vast majority of them have sought asylum in Finland. They are currently being kept at migrant reception centers across the country while waiting for [a] decision from authorities.”

Finland has the longest border with Russia of any member of the European Union. The country ramped up its effort to secure its border with Russia throughout 2023. In April, Finland installed a barbed wire fence to deter illegal crossings. The project began two weeks after Finland joined NATO and officials cited increased concern about security in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In this new situation, we must have much more credible and much more independent border control,” Brigadier General Jari Tolppanen, the head of the technical division at the Finnish Border Guard, told the press, per PBS News. “We need to strengthen our resources. And the fence is necessary in order to manage, for example, large-scale illegal immigration.”

After installing a new coalition government in June, Finland moved to enact new immigration reforms including reducing its refugee quota, differentiating social security between immigrants and permanent residents, strengthening the penalties for employee exploitation, and creating new thresholds for permanent residency.

Russia has denied Finland’s allegations.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, said in November that Russian authorities "deeply regret that the leadership of Finland chose the path of deliberate distancing from the previously good nature of our bilateral relations,” per Fox News.

Moscow has warned that Finland’s reversal of its longstanding non-alignment policy to join NATO in April would lead to ‘countermeasures,’” notes The Moscow Times.

*For corrections please email [email protected]*