Migrant flow from Russia moves north

Border guards place asylum seekers that had crossed over from Russia into a van to be transported to a reception centre from the Nuijamaa border station between Russia and Finland in Lappeenranta, south eastern Finland early morning on November 16, 2023. Russia said it “deeply regretted” Finland’s move to consider closing its border crossings with Russia. Helsinki accused Moscow of deliberately allowing migrants to cross into Finland without having proper travel documents, suggesting it was a tactic to destabilise its neighbour. (Vesa Moilanen / /Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)

Following the announced closure of four border-crossing points in southern Finland, migrants are moving north to crossing points that remain open. Border police in northern Finland and neighbouring Norway is on high alert.

According to the Finnish Border Guard, a total of 18 people on Thursday the 16th of November made it by bicycle to the Vartius border crossing point.

None of them had valid visas and all applied for asylum at arrival. Their country of origin is Syria, Somalia and Yemen, the Border Guard service informs.

The border-crossers are the first to apply for asylum in this region of Finland in 2023.

Deliberately staged by Russian security services says Finland 

The Vartius crossing point is located north of the four points that will be closed on Saturday.

Finnish authorities are confident that the migrant flow from Russia is a deliberate privation staged by Russian security services.

Human traffickers this week told Finnish broadcaster Yle that they have made deals with Russia’s FSB Russian Border Guard Service to help migrants without visas make it to Finland.

Finland is fully supported by European allies.

“Russia’s instrumentalisation of migrants is shameful,” President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen says in a post on X. “I fully support the measures taken by Finland. And I thank the Finnish Border Guards for protecting our European borders,” she adds.

Remaining crossings could be closed, Finland warns

Finland is ready to take additional measures if the migrant flow continues.

In an interview with Yle, Finance Minister Piika Purre underlines that the remaining five border-crossing points to Russia ultimately could face closure.

“We are ready for the next step, which would mean the closure of the whole eastern border and the halt in reception of asylum applications on the eastern borders,” she says, Yle in Russian reports.

Also in Norway, the authorities closely monitor the situation and the country’s Justice Ministry has made clear that the border-crossing point of Storskog could close on short notice in case the situation deteriorates. In late 2015, more than 5,000 migrants made it to Storskog and created a major stir in the Norwegian border area.

Related stories from around the North :

Finland : Finland closes several border-crossing points to Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway : Border trouble not on agenda when FSB boss visited Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia : Cabinet postpones meeting on border crossings; Russia ‘deeply regrets’ Finnish moves, Yle News

Sweden : Key NATO commanders teamed up with newcomer Sweden at northern border with Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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