Sunday, June 23, 2024

Finland builds barrier and closes border with Russia to curb influx of migrants

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HELSINKI (AP) – Finnish border guards and soldiers have begun constructing barriers, including concrete obstacles covered with barbed wire. some intersections The Nordic country’s long border with Russia is set to better control the influx of migrants, officials announced on Wednesday. Finland announced it would close three more transit points, leaving only one North Pole open to migrants seeking asylum.

About 600 migrants without proper visas or documents have entered the country, mainly from the Middle East and Africa. Finland Cases increased in November from a few dozen cases in September and October. Border officials said the arrivals included residents of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Kenya, Morocco and Somalia.

“We need to do this in order to maintain order (on the border) and guarantee the security of legitimate border traffic,” Tomi Tirkonen, deputy commander of the Kainu border guard area in eastern Finland, told The Associated Press. Ta.

The Kremlin expressed regret over Finland’s decision to close the checkpoint and rejected claims by Finnish authorities that Russia had encouraged an influx of migrants at the border. Punish Finland for joining NATO.

Tyrkkonen’s district oversees and monitors two of Finland’s nine border points on its 1.340-kilometre (830-mile) border with Russia. This border serves as the outer border of the European Union and forms the northeastern flank of NATO.

Last week, the Finnish government decided to close four busy Russian border crossings in southeastern Finland, citing suspected misconduct by Russian border officials.

Late Wednesday, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo told reporters that the measures taken on November 16 “unfortunately failed to stop this phenomenon. On the contrary.”

He said the government would therefore close three more checkpoints – Baltius, Kuusamo and Sara – and leave open only Radja Giuseppi, Finland’s northernmost crossing with Russia.

It is located about 1,100 kilometers (684 miles) north of the capital Helsinki and, as of Saturday, remained Finland’s only border point accepting asylum applications from migrants coming from Russia.

Finland’s Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen said on Wednesday that “there is no doubt that Russia is using migration as a tool” as part of a “hybrid war” against Finland. Finland joined NATO in April after decades of military non-alignment and a pragmatic friendship with Moscow.

“Unlike in the past, Russian border authorities are not only allowing people to enter the Finnish border without proper documentation, but they are actively preventing people from entering the border area,” Valtonen said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday. We have obtained evidence that they are providing support to the government.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that Russian authorities were ready to work with Finnish officials to reach an agreement on the border issue. She argued that Finland should have “expressed its concerns or received clarification in order to find a mutually acceptable solution.”

On Monday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry summoned Finland’s ambassador in Moscow to formally protest against the closure of the border’s most frequently used checkpoint.

Approximately 30 to 70 migrants arrive daily at the Valtius checkpoint in Kainuu and the Sala checkpoint in Finland’s Arctic Lapland region, but in winter, temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) and large numbers of migrants arrive. includes snow.

On Wednesday, Andrei Thibis, the governor of Russia’s northern Murmansk region, which borders Finland, posted a photo of migrants in tents near the Sala checkpoint that local authorities had set up for them to warm up, eat and drink hot tea. He described the situation as a “humanitarian crisis” and criticized Finnish authorities, saying “foreigners cannot cross the border.”

Most of the migrants are young men in their 20s and 30s, but some are families with children and women, Border Patrol data and media photos show.

The number of migrants attempting to enter Finland is unusually high, and Olpo’s centre-right government is deliberately pushing migrants into the Russian-Finnish border area, which is usually under the tight control of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). Moscow has been accused of inducing

“There has been a noticeable change in Russia’s modus operandi” regarding migrants and their movement at the Russia-Finland border, Tirkkonen said, adding that Finland will receive some assistance from the EU border and coast guard agency Frontex. Ta. situation.

Finland, with a population of 5.6 million, joined NATO as a direct response to: War between Russia and Ukraine. Although many interpret Moscow’s immigration operation as retaliation against Helsinki for choosing to join the Western military alliance, analysts say Russia’s main motivation for this action remains unclear. It states that.


Follow AP’s coverage of global migration at: https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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