Finland shut down four of its nine border crossings with Russia late Friday to stop a sudden influx of Middle Eastern and African migrants — accusing the Kremlin of sending them in revenge for joining NATO earlier this year.
“It is clear that these people are helped and they are also being escorted or transported to the border by border guards,” Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said Tuesday as he announced the coming crackdown.
At least 280 asylum seekers, mainly from Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Iraq, have arrived in Finland through Russia since September, Finnish authorities said Thursday — and 100 more swarmed the nation’s southern crossings on Friday ahead of the closures.
They arrive at the entry stations by bicycle or on foot after legally entering Russia from their home countries.
“It’s not about the number of asylum seekers, but about Finland’s national security and the change in Russia’s activities,” said Riikka Purra, Finland’s finance minister.
Finland, which shares an 830-mile border with Russia, became the 31st member of the NATO military alliance between Europe and the United States in April, in response to international tensions over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
European Union President Ursula von Leyen praised the new Finnish border policy.
“Russia’s instrumentalization of migrants is shameful,” she wrote on X.
“I thank the Finnish Border Guards for protecting our European borders.”
Two border crossings far in Finland’s north will continue to accept asylum applications, Orpo said.
The shuttered entry points will remain closed until Feb. 18.
A Kremlin spokesman said that Finland was making a “big mistake.”
“The Finnish authorities have taken the path of destroying bilateral relations,” Dmitry Peskov told state news agency TASS.
with Post wires