Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

Finland shut down its solely remaining checkpoint on the border with Russia at midnight Wednesday after an inflow of 900 asylum seekers crossed the border from Russia into Finland this month.

It isn’t anticipated to reopen for at the very least one other two weeks. The Prime Minister of Finland, Petteri Orpo, stated that he believes a few of the asylum seekers have been purposely despatched by the Russian authorities. 

“Russia is enabling the instrumentalisation of individuals and guiding them to the Finnish border in harsh winter situations. Finland is set to place an finish to this phenomenon,” Prime Minister Orpo stated in a authorities press launch on Tuesday.

Russia has not instantly responded to Finland’s choice, however has denied encouraging asylum seekers to enter Finland. The Finnish authorities says that many of the asylum seekers are coming from Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan with out correct documentation.

“We’ve proof displaying that, in contrast to earlier than, not solely Russian border authorities are letting individuals with out correct documentation to the Finnish border, however they’re additionally actively serving to them to the border zone,” Finnish International Minister Elina Valtonen instructed the Related Press final week.

Final week, Finland closed seven of the eight checkpoints alongside the 830-mile Russia-Finland border. The Raja-Jooseppi crossing within the North was the one checkpoint nonetheless open till it was shut down Wednesday. 

Relations between Russia and Finland have turn into strained because the begin of the struggle with Ukraine. Finland declared its intent to affix NATO in Might 2022 and have become an official member in April 2023. This prompted an outcry from the Russian authorities, which sees every new NATO member on its border as a menace to its safety. 

“Helsinki’s coverage of army non-alignment had lengthy served Finnish nationwide pursuits and was an vital issue of confidence-building within the Baltic Sea area and the European continent as a complete,” the Russian international ministry stated in an announcement when Finland joined.

“That is now a factor of the previous. Finland has turn into one of many small members of the alliance that does not determine something, dropping its particular voice in worldwide affairs. We’re certain that historical past will decide this hasty step,” the assertion continued.

This isn’t the primary time Western governments have accused Russia and its allies of encouraging asylum seekers emigrate as part of their warfare ways. Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia all say that they’ve confronted a large inflow in asylum seekers on their borders with Belarus after the EU imposed sanctions on the nation in 2020 in condemnation of its disputed election outcomes. 

The Belarussian president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, confirmed that the choice to ship asylum seekers was straight associated to the EU’s choice to impose sanctions. 

“(Sanctions) can have the alternative impact, which is proven by the fact of at the moment’s occasions on the Belarusian-Polish, Belarusian-Ukrainian, Belarusian-Lithuanian, and Belarusian-Latvian borders,” he stated in a information convention in August 2021.

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