Finland to keep Russian border shut, including in Lapland, until mid-Feb

Finnish Border Guard’s Major General Matti Sarasmaa of the Border and Coast Guard Division (L) and Finnish Interior Minister Mari Rantanen attend press conference on the situation of the eastern border stations of Finland in Helsinki on January 11, 2024. Finland’s government said it would extend its border closure with Russia having shut it following a spike in migrant crossings that Helsinki labelled a Russian hybrid attack. (Photo by Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva / AFP via Getty Images)

Interior Minister Mari Rantanen (Finns) said the closure was extended because the situation at the Finnish-Russian border has not changed since it was shut in December.

Finland’s government has decided to extend the closure of all eight checkpoints along the country’s eastern border with Russia until at least 11 February, Interior Minister Mari Rantanen (Finns) announced in a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

Rantanen justified the decision on the basis that the situation at the eastern border has not changed since Finland closed the frontier in December.

“National security is a critical issue for Finland,” Rantanen said.

She added that her ministry is currently investigating various alternative means of permanently resolving the situation on the Finnish-Russian border.

In a press release, the ministry noted that migrants have been seen on the Russian side of the border, apparently waiting for the crossing point to open.

Hybrid operation aimed at sowing discontent within Finnish society, officials say

Apart from a single freight train crossing, the Finnish government shut the entire eastern frontier in December in response to the increasing number of asylum seekers arriving at Finnish border crossing points. Authorities in Finland suspect the migrants were being funneled to the border by Russia, as part of a so-called hybrid operation aimed at sowing discontent within Finnish society.

When the closure decision was announced in mid-December, Rantanen said the checkpoints would remain shut until at least 14 January.

However, with that deadline approaching, Finnish media outlets reported earlier this week that the government was planning to extend the border closure.

“Based on the information I have now, nothing has changed in Russia. I consider the threat assessment to be similar. It suggests that further action is needed,” PM Petteri Orpo (NCP) told Yle on Tuesday.

Related stories from around the North :

Norway: Norway nixes border surveillance helicopter despite Murmansk migrant queues, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Tougher measures against extremism and terrorism needed on Norway and Finland borders, The Independent Barents Observer

SwedenEU deploys additional border guards to Finland, Radio Sweden

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