According to a report by the US think tank, the Finnish authorities “ISW“ closed four border checkpoints on the southeastern border with Russia on November 18 after the Finnish Border Guard Agency reported that about 300 asylum seekers, mainly from Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria, had arrived at the Finnish border from Russia since September 2023 , as the source says. In a two-day period between November 7th and 14th, 89 migrant border crossings were recorded – a significant increase from the 91 crossings recorded from mid-July to November 12th.
Migrants brave cold at Finnish border
There are currently four checkpoints open on Finland’s northeastern border with Russia, but only two of them are for asylum seekers. Reuters reported on November 19 that dozens of migrants arrived at the closed Finnish crossings of Nuijamaa and Vaalimaa on November 18 and gathered around a campfire in subzero temperatures. The Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported on November 20th that the Finnish authorities could consider closing the entire border with Russia on the night of November 21st.
Finland’s Prime Minister, Petteri Orpo, reportedly stated on November 14 that Russian border guards were escorting or transporting migrants to the Finnish border, and the Finnish government indicated on November 16 that there were signs that “foreign authorities or other actors “played a role in allowing people to cross the border illegally.
Kremlin counters: Criticism of Finland’s border policy
In contrast, the Kremlin rejects Finland’s accusations of participating in the artificial increase of migrants. Dmitri Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, was reported to have responded to the announcement of the closure of the four checkpoints on November 17 by stating that Finland had chosen a path of confrontation, which he called a “big mistake.” Peskov also claimed on November 20 that Finland’s possible decision to close the entire border caused “nothing but deep regret” and claimed that Finland’s “Russophobic” attitude had damaged past Finnish-Russian relations.