The decision comes as the city of Helsinki receives new arrivals of asylum seekers in what has been identified as a hybrid attack by Russia.
Finland will close its eastern border with Russia, the interior minister announced just hours after the Nordic country eased a two-week blockade of all roads between the two countries.
The city of Helsinki said the recent increase in asylum seekers arriving via Russia was a move orchestrated by Moscow in retaliation for the Nordic nation’s decision to step up defense cooperation with the United States, but the Kremlin has denied the charge. I’m denying it.
Arrivals stopped when Finland closed its borders in late November, but entry resumed on Thursday with two of eight checkpoints opening, with around 36 people seeking asylum, according to the Finnish Border Guard. It is said that there is.
“Since this phenomenon has started again, we will close the entire border,” Interior Minister Mari Rantanen told parliament.
“This is a sign that the Russian authorities are continuing their hybrid operations against Finland. This is unacceptable to Finland,” Rantanen said in a statement.
Finland joined NATO in April after decades of military non-alignment and a pragmatic friendship with Moscow. The 1,340km (832 miles) border with Russia serves as the European Union’s outer border and forms the northeastern flank of NATO.
About 900 asylum seekers from countries including Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen entered Finland from Russia in November, up from less than one per day previously, according to the Border Guard. .
Concerns about the rights of asylum seekers
In a letter published on Monday, the Council of Europe said it was “concerned for the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants” following the temporary closure of its borders, and that they would still be able to seek protection from Finland. He asked to ensure certain things.
Rantanen, head of the Anti-Immigrant Finland Party, told Reuters on Monday, however, there was no reason for human rights concerns as asylum could be sought at other points of entry.
Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen said last month that “there is no doubt that Russia is using migration as a tool” as part of its “hybrid war” against Finland.
“At the EU border with Finland, Russian border guards are allowing people who do not have Schengen visas or EU residence permits to pass through. People who are misunderstood. People who are being exploited by Russia,” the European Commission said. said Ylva Johansson, Home Affairs Commissioner.
At the end of November, the European Union’s border guard agency Frontex announced it would send 50 staff to Finland, as well as police cars and other equipment “to strengthen Finland’s border security operations.”
In 2021, between 3,000 and 4,000 asylum seekers were stranded in a no-man’s land on the Poland-Belarus border as Warsaw deployed security forces to prevent people from entering in freezing winter temperatures.
The EU and Warsaw accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of masterminding the crisis, saying Minsk is deliberately luring migrants and refugees into Belarus and pushing them to the West with the promise of easy accession. did.