Finnish Government implements two-week border closure with Russia

No more traffic at Raja-Jooseppi, the checkpoint on the road from Ivalo to Murmansk. (Saara-Maria Salonen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Raja-Jooseppi in Finnish Lapland was the last open border crossing to Russia. Despite few migrants in recent days, and zero on Tuesday, the government in Helsinki takes no chances and points to “threat to public order and national security”.

The closure was announced at a press conference by Prime Minister Petteri Orpo and Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen in the afternoon on November 28.

“We don’t accept any attempts to undermine our national security, Orpo said.

Wednesday, November 29, will be last open day at Raja-Jooseppi, the northernmost of Finland’s eight border checkpoints along the land border with Russia, the Finnish Border Guard informs.

“The decision is valid until 13 December 2023,” Rantanen added.

The announcement came at a press conference in Helsinki. (Screenshot from live broadcast/The Independent Barents Observer)

A press release from the Government elaborates:

“Based on the observations made by the Border Guard and other authorities and the information received, it is clear that the authorities of a foreign country and other actors play a role in facilitating the arrival of persons who have crossed the border to Finland. The phenomenon is also related to international crime.”

Finland says Russia is using migrants as a hybrid operation.

“…. threat of its further expansion pose a serious threat to national security and public order in Finland and elsewhere in the Schengen area.” the Government states.

The Finnish-Russian border is closed. (Atle Staalesen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Russia’s FSB border service has assisted the migrants to get to the border with Finland.

  • More than 900 migrants have entered Finland from Russia since August and asked for asylum.
  • Finland closed four checkpoints in the south on November 18.
  • On November 22, three more checkpoints were closed including Salla in Lapland.
  • From November 24, only Raja-Jooseppi in Inari is open.
  • Finland’s Prime minister Petteri Orpo says the migration wave is organized by Russian authorities.
  • Norway’s border crossing to the Murmansk region, at Storskog, has so far not seen any migrants this November asking for asylum. The Norwegian government has said the border can be closed in short notice if migrant troubles escalate.

With no ways to cross the 1,340 km land border in the two-weeks period ahead, the nearest travel option for people between Finland and Russia will either be to go north via Norway (Storskog) or south to Estonia (Narva). 

Related stories from around the North :

Finland: Russia sends asylum seekers on bicycles over Arctic border to Finland in -22°C, 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

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

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

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