Thomas Brooke, Remix, November 20, 2023
Finland is considering a total closure of its border with Russia amid accusations that Moscow is behind a dramatic rise in irregular border crossings by migrants from the Middle East.
Foreign and security policy sources told the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti that Prime Minister Petteri Orpo is ready to shut all border checkpoints on the country’s eastern border as soon as Wednesday.
The Finnish government already announced border restrictions last week after alleging that the Kremlin was engaging in hybrid warfare by permitting illegal immigrants, primarily from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, to cross its territory to reach the EU’s external border and destabilize Europe.
However, further evidence of this came to light over the weekend as footage showed migrants being handed electronic scooters and bicycles in order to assist them on the migratory route.
“Russia has directed unspecified interference at the border,” said Finnish Defense Minister Antti Häkkänen. “We know what Russia is doing.”
Over 300 migrants are understood to have attempted to cross the border in the past week, up considering from the usual negligible single digits.
According to Iltalehti, the Finnish government believes it has the right to return illegal migrants to Russia, but as it is unlikely that Moscow will accept individuals who have crossed into Europe, Helsinki has been left with no choice but to shut up shop.
Accusations of hybrid warfare by Russia are longstanding amid several Baltic nations including Estonia and Latvia, while Poland and Lithuania have alleged that Belarus is also participating in similar activity on their respective borders with the Russian ally.
Targeting Finland may be a new approach by Moscow following the country’s recent admission into NATO, a move likely to have angered the Kremlin which believes Western encroachment is threatening Russia’s national security.
The Kremlin responded to the allegations by accusing the Estonian government of Russophobia.
“This causes nothing but great sadness because we have had long, very good relations with Finland, practical, based on mutual respect,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov.
“We regret that these relations have been replaced exclusively by the Russophobic attitude adopted by the leaders of this country,” he added.