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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Finland closes last border with Russia amid rising tensions

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NATO member Finland closed its last remaining border crossing with Russia on Wednesday following the government’s decision to close its entire border with its eastern neighbor amid rising political tensions.

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Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s cabinet announced a day earlier that the 1,340-kilometre (830-mi ) has decided to temporarily close the entire border. ”

The Raja Giuseppi checkpoint in Finland’s Arctic Lapland region, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from the northern Russian city of Murmansk, was closed at 2pm on Wednesday in accordance with the normal November checkpoint schedule.

Vir Atiainen, deputy commander of the Finnish Border Guard in Lapland, told reporters that the remote border crossing in the middle of a rugged wilderness was quiet during the four hours it opened on Wednesday, with only a few vehicles inside. He said a vehicle was passing by. Traveling to Russia. Borders cannot be crossed on foot.

He said no migrants attempted to enter Finland in Raja Giuseppi on Wednesday.

Finnish authorities say around 1,000 migrants without visas or valid documents have arrived at the border since August, with more than 900 arriving in November alone. Finland is an important part of her NATO northeast flank and serves as her EU’s outer border in the north.

Officials say the migrants are from countries including Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, and the majority have applied for asylum in Finland after arriving on the Finnish side of the border. That’s what it means.

Finland has accused Russia of deliberately directing migrants to its border area, which is normally tightly controlled by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

The official closure of the entire eastern border between Finland and Russia will take effect at midnight Wednesday, but the Raja Giuseppi crossing is actually the only one left open after the Finnish government closed seven other border points earlier this month. It had become.

The situation has heightened tensions between Helsinki and Moscow after decades of pragmatic friendship between the neighboring countries. These relations were terminated by Finland’s decision to join NATO in May 2022, as a direct result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began in February 2022.

Finland became NATO’s 31st member state in April this year.

The Kremlin denies that Russia is encouraging immigration to Finland and says it deplores Finland’s border closure. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Finland formally notified Moscow on Wednesday that it had closed its last remaining northernmost border crossing. In her comments earlier this week, Zakharova accused Finland of harming its own citizens by closing its borders.

Asked for comment on the NATO allies’ alleged plans to send troops to the Finnish-Russian border, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, “Nobody wants to leave Finland alone.” “We are not threatening,” he said, calling the move “overreach.”

At the same time, it warned that “tensions could arise during the concentration of additional troops on the border.”

“We consider the concentration of troops on the border completely unfounded and groundless,” Peskov said. “The Finns need to clearly recognize that the buildup of troops on our borders poses a threat to us.”

Currently, there are no NATO soldiers permanently stationed on Finnish territory or along the Russian border, apart from foreign troops participating in the military alliance’s regular exercises with the Finnish army.

Some experts cited by Finnish media believe that Peskov was referring to the EU border agency Frontex, which sends personnel and equipment to help patrol and monitor Finland’s long eastern border. There is.

The complete border closure between Finland and Russia is expected to last at least two weeks until December 13, after which one border may be reopened, the Finnish government said.Railway crossings between the two countries remain open for freight transport only

(AP)



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