In announcing plans to reopen parts of Finland’s border with Russia on Tuesday, Finnish authorities said they would continue to monitor and would close the border again if Moscow resumed the flow of migrants. Two days later, the government announced plans to close it as dozens of migrants were arriving.
“Illegal entry to Finland’s borders has resumed immediately,” Finland’s Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said at a press conference on Thursday. “It is essential that the eastern border be closed.”
All railroad crossings were closed Friday night and will remain closed until January 14, it said.
Friction along Finland’s 830-mile border with Russia has become a flashpoint in tensions between the two countries since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and Finland’s entry into NATO earlier this year.
Finland gradually closed its borders starting in mid-November and by the end of the month after accusing Russia of helping hundreds of asylum seekers, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, reach its borders. All land routes for travelers were closed. destabilize Finland.
Finnish authorities said the influx of refugees would put stress on host facilities, polarize society and increase the risk of an influx of criminals and “extremists”.
Russian authorities have said these allegations are unfounded.
Opinion polls show that Finnish public opinion largely supports the closure, although some left-wing opposition politicians objected, saying Finland was not living up to its obligations to provide international protection.
But after weeks of heightened security, Finland announced on Tuesday that the influx had stopped and that it would reopen its borders to see if Russia had ended its “operation.”
The border will be closed again from 8pm local time on Friday.
Poland and the Baltic states have also accused Belarus in the past of helping migrants enter the country and using migrants as political weapons. Frontex, the European Union’s border agency, has sent personnel to help secure the Finnish border. The agency said the security of Russia’s borders with Finland, which is part of the bloc, was a “concern for all of Europe.”