(VitalNews.org) – Finland shut down four Russian border crossings at midnight on Friday, November 17, to curb the flow of asylum seekers through Russia. This decision follows a surge in asylum seekers crossing into Finland from the east, prompting Helsinki to close these crossings out of concern over excessive numbers of migrants attempting to get into the Nordic country.
Matti Pitkaniitty, head of international affairs for the Border Guard, stated that barriers will be installed to prevent unauthorized entry, a response to changes in Russia’s border policies. Nearly a hundred migrants arrived in Finland from Russia by midday on November 17.
From Saturday onward, individuals seeking asylum will exclusively be able to lodge their applications at two border crossings in the north—specifically Salla and Vartius—while the closure of the four southeastern entry points, namely Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra, and Niirala, will come into effect. This decision comes as 300 migrants from Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Syria have entered Finland, leading the government to accuse Russia of orchestrating this migration influx—a claim dismissed by Moscow.
Finland, a European Union member, recently incurred Moscow’s displeasure by joining the NATO alliance. The country shares a substantial border with Russia, serving as the EU’s external boundary.
The rise in asylum seekers entering Finland from Russia is believed to be a response to Helsinki’s defense collaboration with the United States, a theory refuted by the Kremlin. Despite Finland’s decision to close certain border points, the government still acknowledges its international duty to grant asylum seekers the right to seek protection under EU laws and international treaties.
Starting Saturday, only two northern border crossings, Salla and Vartius, will allow asylum seekers arriving via Russia to submit applications. The Finnish government’s accusation of Russia intentionally channeling people to the border has heightened tensions between the two nations, with Moscow denying these allegations.
Copyright 2023, VitalNews.org