Finland’s Interior Minister announced plans to reseal its eastern border with Russia, a decision made just hours after it had been reopened due to a surge in migrant crossings, an event labeled as a Russian hybrid attack by Helsinki.
The 1,340-kilometer border will be closed from Friday, 8:00 p.m., until Jan. 14, according to Interior Minister Mari Rantanen’s statement during a press conference.
Initially, Finland had started to ease the closure that had been in effect since late November, with hopes of assessing the border situation. However, renewed migrant entries immediately upon the easing of restrictions led to the cancellation of these plans.
Despite the reopening of two border crossing points in southeastern Finland, the Finnish border guard reported at least 40 migrant crossings into Finland since the borders were reopened.
Rantanen emphasized the unexpected rapid increase in migrant numbers, prompting the decision to close the border again.
Russian Governor Arthur Parfenchikov of Karelia, bordering Finland, acknowledged the presence of migrant groups among those seeking to cross. Russian authorities only found two individuals with inadequate documentation while allowing others to pass through the checkpoint in small groups.
This closure follows earlier closures of border crossings by Finland due to an influx of migrants in mid-November, initially closing four of eight crossings before limiting passage to the northernmost checkpoint, which was subsequently closed by the end of November.
Finland, abiding by international law, must ensure migrant asylum-seeking capabilities unless exceptional circumstances warrant limiting access, according to Finnish legal experts.
The Finnish government has accused Russia of orchestrating a migration crisis along its border, alleging political coercion against its smaller neighbor. This assertion has led to strained relations between Finland and Russia since the Ukrainian invasion.
In anticipation of such geopolitical maneuvers, Finland initiated the construction of a 200-kilometer fence along its Russian border in February to thwart potential political pressure using migrants.