The move comes after a surge in the number of undocumented migrants arriving at Finnish checkpoints. PM Petteri Orpo says they are being “helped, encouraged and organized.”
Finland is set to close half of its border with Russia on Friday night, accusing Moscow of encouraging undocumented migrants to head to border posts and claim asylum.
Speaking at a press conference in Helsinki, the Interior Minister mari rantanen said four border crossings will be closed As of February 18, while asylum applications are centralized at two other locations.
Migrants have arrived in large numbers in the past few days and border guards say most of them are Iraqis, Syrians, Turks and Somalis – and many of them on brand new bicycles. Walking to the border is not permitted, so anyone arriving at a Finnish checkpoint must drive or cycle.
Rantanen said the migrants were young and healthy people who already had residence permits allowing them to live in Russia. She said they were “being taken to Finland.”
Prime Minister Petteri Orpo Telling reporters that authorities were working quickly to ensure the situation at the border did not deteriorate, he described the recent influx of more than 280 asylum seekers as “helped, encouraged and organized.”
“During the last parliamentary term, amendments were made to the Border Guard Act for such situations. These equipment have now been used,” he said.
Ministers say closing border crossing points should stop illegal entry into Finland, but the government is prepared to “take even stronger measures if necessary”.
Earlier this week, Finland’s defense minister described increased migrant numbers as a “hybrid war” strategy on Russia’s part, while President Sauli Niinistö, on a state visit to Germany, criticized Russian threats in response to Finland’s joining NATO. Described the actions as “malicious”.
Previous Russian strategies using migrants
Finnish officials are aware that Russia could send more migrants to its longest land border with the EU as part of a mixed strategy to contain Finns – a Moscow has tried this strategy before,
In January and February 2016, approximately 1,000 migrants arrived arctic border post Between Finland and Russia. Finnish authorities believe the arrivals were facilitated by Russian authorities with bus transportation and hotel accommodation on the journey north, as well as instructions on how to claim asylum after crossing the border.
The incident was widely considered to be Russia’s first, and most successful, hybrid attack of this type on an EU member state to date – although Finnish officials and politicians at the time objected to labeling it as such.
Analysts told Euronews that this was likely a “proof of concept” operation, showing that Russia could start this flow of migrants and then turn it off at will.
are already there plans in place A 200-km fence with advanced electronic surveillance equipment is to be constructed along the border, but only small portions have been completed so far.