The Finnish government will do everything in its power to ensure the country’s security after accusing Russia of facilitating migratory pressure at its border.
According to Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, his administration will not rule out the introduction of a full border closure following an increase in traffic at its Russian border by undocumented migrants from the Middle East.
Almost a year ago, Finland closed its 1,300-kilometer border with Russia to Russian tourists, but border crossings remain open for business, health, education, and family visits. They can therefore still be crossed for humanitarian reasons.
However, in recent days, the number of non-Russian refugees has increased, with 63 arrivals from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Turkey, mainly on bicycles, on Wednesday morning alone.
The Finnish prime minister said that Russia’s attitude towards migrants has changed. According to Petteri Orpo, the Russian authorities are organizing the transport of undocumented migrants to the Finnish border, who then apply for asylum in the Nordic country.
“It is clear that these people are being helped to reach the border. This seems a very conscious decision. The government’s message is clear: We must take this seriously and keep our borders secure,” he said.
The prime minister warned that this action may be part of Russia’s hybrid warfare against Finland. Interior Minister Mari Rantanen called an emergency press conference on Tuesday after the Foreign and Security Policy Ministerial Committee discussed the issue. The minister said it was also possible that a full border closure with Russia would have to be introduced.
Although the number of arrivals is negligible on a European scale, experts say that the arrival of a few dozen illegal migrants a day is only the beginning and that hundreds or even thousands of Middle Eastern migrants could storm Finland’s eastern border every day.
Finland decided last year to construct a border fence along some easily accessible sections of the Finnish-Russian border, but the 200-kilometer-long and 3-meter-high barrier will not be fully completed until 2025, so if Helsinki closes its eastern border, it will face a serious task of border defense.