Tuesday 28 November 2023 - 21:46

Finland Closes Borders with Russia as Tension over Asylum Seekers Rises

Story Code : 1098891
Finland Closes Borders with Russia as Tension over Asylum Seekers Rises
Finland has announced it is temporarily closing its entire border with Russia after weeks of tensions between the countries over asylum seekers that Helsinki has labelled a “hybrid operation” by Moscow.

With just 24 hours’ notice, the Finnish government said on Tuesday it would close Raja-Jooseppi in Lapland, its last remaining border crossing point with Russia, on Wednesday night.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said the move was prompted by national security concerns.

"Our aim is that the exceptional situation at the eastern border of Finland returns back to normal as soon as possible. We don't accept any attempt to undermine our national security, he said. “Russia has caused this situation and is also able to end it.” 219

Approximately 900 asylum seekers from nations including Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen have entered Finland from Russia this month, an increase from less than one per day previously, according to Finnish authorities.

Helsinki says Moscow is funnelling people to the border in retaliation for its decision to increase defence cooperation with the United States, a charge the Kremlin has denied.

Finland joined NATO earlier this year, ending decades of military non-alignment, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.