EU Reinforces Finland’s Border with Russia Amid Suspicions of Migrant Influx

In a significant development, the European Union (EU) has decided to send reinforcements to Finland to bolster its border security amidst suspicions that Russia may be behind the recent wave of migrants entering the country.

This move comes as Finland has experienced a surge in undocumented migrants, primarily from Asia and Africa, who lack the appropriate visas and documentation. The EU’s border agency, Frontex, plans to deploy 50 additional agents, patrol vehicles, and other resources to Finland in the coming week.

The situation at the Finnish-Russian border has raised concerns about Russia’s intentions and the potential for destabilization.

The Surge in Migrants

Over the past month, approximately 600 migrants without proper visas or documentation have arrived in Finland. This number is significantly higher compared to the few dozen migrants who arrived in September and October.

The migrants originate from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Kenya, Morocco, and Somalia, among other countries. The sudden increase in arrivals has prompted Finnish border authorities to take swift action in response to the situation.

Finland’s Border Security Measures

To address the growing concerns, Finnish border agents and soldiers have begun erecting barriers and concrete blocks topped with barbed wire at various crossings along the country’s extensive border with Russia. Last week, the Finnish government closed four crossings amid suspicions of foul play by Russian border authorities.

Currently, only one crossing remains open in the Arctic region for asylum seekers. The Kremlin has denied these allegations, but the Finnish authorities maintain their stance.

Frontex Reinforcements

Frontex, the EU’s border agency, has announced its intention to send a significant reinforcement of 50 agents, patrol vehicles, and other equipment to Finland. This decision underscores the EU’s united position in addressing the multiple challenges faced by one of its member states.

The executive director of Frontex, Hans Leijtens, emphasized that this deployment is a demonstration of the EU’s commitment to protect its borders and defend fundamental rights.

Finland’s Strategic Position

Finland shares nine border crossings with Russia, spanning a distance of 1,340 kilometers (830 miles). This border not only serves as the eastern frontier of the EU but also plays a crucial role in the northeastern flank of NATO. Finnish authorities believe that Russia has become increasingly hostile since Finland’s NATO membership in April.

The current situation at the Finnish-Russian border has evoked a sense of déjà vu for Ylva Johansson, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs. Two years ago, Belarus directed migrants towards Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, which was seen as an attempt to destabilize the EU.

EU’s Support for Finland

In a message of solidarity to Finland, EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson stated, “The Finnish border is the EU’s border. The European Union stands with you. You can count on our full support in protecting the EU’s border and defending fundamental rights.”

The EU’s commitment to Finland reflects its determination to maintain the integrity of its external borders and ensure the safety and well-being of its citizens.

Closure of Border Crossings

In response to the crisis, Finland will close seven out of eight border crossings along its eastern border with Russia starting from midnight tonight. This extraordinary measure will remain in effect until the eve of Christmas. Following the closure of four busy border posts last week, which were in close proximity to St. Petersburg, the Finnish government has decided to close the crossings in Vartius, Kuusamo, and Salla, leaving only the Raja-Jooseppi crossing open in the northernmost part of the border.

The Finnish Ministry of the Interior, led by Mari Rantanen from the populist right-wing party True Finns, initially intended to completely seal the border. However, the Ministry of Justice opposed this drastic measure, citing the current circumstances as insufficient to warrant such action.

Finland’s Security Priorities

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo emphasized during a press conference that the closure of the seven border crossings represents the most severe measure that can be taken at present. However, he did not rule out the possibility of a complete border closure if the migration crisis worsens.

Orpo stated, “Our task is to ensure the security of Finns and our borders.” Finland has accused Moscow of exploiting migration to destabilize the country following its recent NATO membership, but the Kremlin has denied these allegations and instead blamed the leaders in Helsinki for exhibiting Russophobia.

Escalation of the Migration Crisis

According to migration authorities, Finland has received approximately 700 asylum seekers from third countries via Russia in November alone. These individuals mostly originate from the Middle East and Somalia, which marks a significant increase compared to the total of 91 arrivals in the preceding three months.

The situation has raised concerns about the motivations behind this surge and the impact it may have on Finland’s security and socio-economic landscape.

Conclusion

Finland’s border with Russia has become a focal point of concern due to the recent influx of migrants without proper visas or documentation. The EU’s decision to send reinforcements to Finland demonstrates its commitment to protecting its external borders and supporting its member states.

The closure of multiple border crossings reflects Finland’s determination to address the crisis and ensure the safety of its citizens. As the situation unfolds, it remains crucial for Finland, the EU, and Russia to engage in dialogue and cooperation to manage the migration issue effectively while maintaining regional stability.