Finland will on Saturday close four of the nine crossing points on its border with Russia to stem a flow of asylum seekers to the Nordic nation, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo has said.
Finland’s president said yesterday that a rise in the number of asylum applicants arriving on the country’s eastern border appeared to be Russian revenge for Finland’s defence cooperation with the United States.
Finland, whose accession to the NATO alliance earlier this year after decades of non-alignment angered Moscow, shares a 1,340km border with Russia that also serves as the EU’s external border.
The four crossings are all in the south-east of Finland and normally the busiest points of travel between the two countries.
“The government has today decided that Finland will close some eastern border crossing points. The eastern border for that part will close on the night between Friday and Saturday,” Mr Orpo told a press conference.
This week dozens of asylum seekers from countries such as Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria have arrived each day via Russia, Finland’s border guards have said, up from fewer than one per day on average earlier in the autumn.
The accumulated number of arrivals since September now stands at 280 asylum seekers, the Border Guard Authority said.
Asylum seekers arriving via Russia will from Saturday onwards only be allowed to hand in their applications at two northern border crossings, the government said.
Some 3,000 people use Finland’s south-eastern border crossings on a daily basis. Mr Orpo said he understood that the closures would make everyday life more difficult for people who are allowed to travel between Finland and Russia.
Finland said it would reverse course if the asylum arrivals ended.
“Our message is strong, we want this phenomenon to end so we can continue the border traffic like we have until now,” he said.
This article is a repost by RTE: Finland closes four Russian border crossings after migrant influx