February 21, 2024

Finland will close its eastern border with Russia, its interior minister said Thursday, hours after reopening it following a spike in migrant crossings that Helsinki has labelled a Russian hybrid attack.

“The phenomenon has started again and we will close the whole border,” Interior Minister Mari Rantanen told the Nordic country’s parliament.

A press conference on the matter was scheduled for 6:15 pm (1615 GMT).

On Tuesday, Finland opted to partially ease the border closure that had been in force since the end of November, aiming to assess whether there was still pressure on its borders.

Two border crossing points were opened overnight Wednesday to Thursday.

The Finnish border guard said Thursday that at least 40 people had crossed into Finland to seek asylum since the border was opened.

Following an influx of migrants in mid-November, Finland closed four of its eight border crossings with Russia, before restricting passage only to the northernmost crossing. That too was closed by the end of November.

The Nordic country, which shares a 1,340-kilometre (830-mile) border with Russia, had seen nearly 1,000 migrants arrive without a visa through its eastern border crossings since August.

“This is an organised activity, not a genuine emergency,” Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said of the surge in late November.

Russia has denied intentionally sending migrants to Finland.

Finland’s relations with its eastern neighbour soured after the invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow warned of “countermeasures” after Finland joined NATO in April, reversing its decades-long policy of military non-alignment.

AFP

Affairs TV News

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