Finland extends closure of crossing stations on Russian border until further notice News
kallerna, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Finland extends closure of crossing stations on Russian border until further notice

The Finnish Ministry of Interior announced on Thursday that it will extend the closure of crossing stations on its land border with Russia until further notice. In addition, it will also close the water traffic border crossings at Haapasaari, the port of Nuijamaa and Santio, on April 15.

The Thursday decision extends the closure of the eight border crossing points on the land borders between Finland and Russia announced in February, which was initially scheduled to end on April 14. By further closing the border crossing points at the three ports, Finland will concentrate all applications for “international protection” at other water transport border crossing points and air traffic border crossing points starting from April 15.

The Finnish government expressed the concern that, as spring progresses, illegal entry into the country might spread to water traffic, endangering the lives of migrants and adding to the burden of sea rescue. “Instrumentalized migration” from Russia has been a long-standing problem faced by Finland, leading to Finland’s closure of its eastern land borders with Russia since last November. While the order has been lifted and reimposed several times subject to periodical reviews, the current decision aims to extend the closure infinitely “until further notice.”

Finland alleges that instrumented entry is one of Russia’s ways to pressure and influence the security and social stability of Finland and the EU. The European Parliament similarly expressed its concern in December 2023 over the role of “state actors in artificially creating and facilitating irregular migration,” while Russia denied such accusations and called it regrettable.

The Ministry of Interior of Finland is also preparing a draft law listing the circumstances under which Finland could limit the acceptance of asylum seekers in certain areas to combat instrumentalized immigration. The Ministry of Interior published the draft bill for opinion on March 15. Various agencies at national, EU and UN levels have submitted their opinions on the proposal. The proposed law, if approved, is intended to enter into force as soon as possible and remain valid for one year after coming into force. The Ministry of Interior stated that, according to its own assessment, other means could not effectively prevent pressure on Finland from instrumentalized immigration.

The diplomatic relationship between Finland and Russia has been deteriorating since Finland abandoned its long-held stance of military non-alignment and joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in April 2023. Previously, Moscow has criticized Finland’s “politicized attitude” toward the border and disregard of bilateral discussions between border forces.