Emma Bubola and Johanna Lemola, New York Times, January 11, 2024
Finland said on Thursday that it would keep its eastern border with Russia closed for another month amid an ongoing dispute about increased numbers of migrants in the area.
The relationship between Finland and Russia, which share an 830-mile border, deteriorated after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Late last year, Finland closed all of its land crossings with Russia, accusing Moscow of facilitating a potentially destabilizing influx of migrants mostly from Africa and the Middle East.
Finland’s government partly reopened the border in December, but quickly closed it again and said the influx of migrants had resumed.
“It is very likely that Russia’s hybrid influence activities will resume and expand,” Finland’s interior minister, Mari Rantanen, said at a news conference Thursday.
Finland has argued that asylum applications can still be received at other entry points, such as the Helsinki airport. But Martin Scheinin, a human rights scholar at the University of Oxford, said that there was no “real and effective way” for that to happen.
“Finland has blocked any actual possibility to approach its authorities at borders,” he said.