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EU sends border police reinforcements to Finland amid fears Russia is behind migrant influx

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HELSINKI (AP) – The European Union’s border agency said Thursday it will send dozens of reinforcements and equipment to Finland to help with border security amid suspicions of Russian involvement. influx of immigrants Arrive in the country.

Frontex said it expected a “significant increase” of 50 Border Patrol agents and other staff, police vehicles and additional equipment to be deployed as early as next week.

More than 800 immigrants are entering the country without proper visas or documents. Finland So far since August, there have been more than 700 cases in November alone by the end of Wednesday, compared to dozens in September and October. They include people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Kenya, Morocco and Somalia.

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo addressed MPs in parliament on Thursday, calling the situation a “serious disruption of border security” that affects the national security of Finland, a country of 5.6 million people.

“We cannot influence Finland, we cannot destabilize Finland,” Olupo said firmly. “Russia started this, but Russia can stop it too.”

The Kremlin denies the allegations.

On Wednesday, Finnish border guards and soldiers began constructing barriers, including concrete obstacles covered with barbed wire. some intersections It is located on the long border between the Scandinavian country and Russia.

Last week, the government decided to close four busy Russian border crossings in southeastern Finland, citing suspected misconduct by Russian border officials. The plan is to leave only one North Pole crossing point for migrants seeking asylum.

Frontex Director-General Hans Leitens said sending reinforcements to the border “demonstrates the European Union’s unified position on the hybrid challenges affecting member states.”

Finland has nine borders with Russia and is 1,340 kilometers (830 miles) long, serving as the EU’s easternmost border and an important part of NATO’s northeast flank. Finnish authorities believe that Russia has become increasingly hostile to Finland since the country joined NATO in April.

Finnish border officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the Russian-Finnish border area is typically under tight control of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), but there has been a notable change in Russia’s modus operandi. Ta.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said this week that difficulties at the Finnish border felt like “déjà vu”, two years after Belarus began expelling migrants to Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, a European official said, adding that 27 countries He said it was an attempt to destabilize the country. -National block.

“The Finnish border is the EU’s border,” Johansson told EU lawmakers in a message of support to Helsinki. “The European Union is behind you. Count on our full support to protect the EU’s borders and protect fundamental rights.”

Most of the migrants – often seen wearing sneakers in Finland’s harsh winter conditions – are young men in their 20s and 30s, but there are also families with children and women, according to border guard data and photos. That’s what it means. Finnish and Russian media reports said almost everyone arrived at the border area on bicycles, and that the bicycles were provided and sold.

The governor of Russia’s northern Murmansk region recently said the region was on “high alert” after Finland announced it would close all but one border between the two countries.

Governor Andrei Thibis said he expected a “sharp” increase in the number of foreigners attempting to cross into Finland from the last remaining open border crossing in the Murmansk region.

Tibis said there were 400 people waiting to enter Finland at the Sara border crossing in southern Finland on Wednesday, but only 50 of them were allowed to cross.

Russia’s Baltic neighbor Estonia has also seen a recent surge in the number of migrants attempting to enter the country through the border point in the border city of Narva. In the past seven days, around 30 migrants, mainly Somalis and Syrians, have been returned to Russia for not seeking asylum in Estonia.

“This is completely state-orchestrated (by Russia). Completely,” Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said at a press conference after meeting with Nordic and Baltic defense ministers in Stockholm on Thursday. .

“Russia has border zones up to 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) that cannot be entered without permission from the FSB. You will end up at one of the Finnish border crossings,” Pevkul told reporters.

“Now, are you serious?” he said.


Lorne Cook reported from Brussels.


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