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EU country could open border with Russia

Finland closed the entire border with its eastern neighbor last November

Checkpoints on Finland’s border with Russia could be opened to passenger transport after the adoption of a new migration law, Defense Minister Antti Hakkanen told the media outlet Etela-Saimaa on Tuesday. The ‘border exception law’ could be approved later this month, the official said.

Finland, which joined NATO last year, closed its eastern land border in late November and banned shipping from several ports after more than 1,300 asylum seekers – primarily from Africa and the Middle East – crossed over from Russian territory during a four-month period. The flow of migrants had previously averaged just a few hundred per year, and the Finnish government blamed Moscow for the influx.

“The border law is currently being finalized. It will be considered by the parliament within one or two weeks,” Hakkanen said during a visit to the city of Lappeenranta near the Finnish-Russian border. He added that the legislation is expected to come into force as soon as possible.

In March, the Finnish government announced plans to adopt a temporary law to curb what it described as “instrumentalized migration.”

READ MORE: EU country extends closure of border with Russia

The law would allow the government “to restrict the reception of applications” from asylum seekers attempting to enter Finland from Russia. Once adopted, the legislation could enable passenger traffic at some border crossing points in southeastern Finland, according to Hakkanen.

Russia has dismissed Finland’s claims about weaponizing migration. In April, the Foreign Ministry accused Helsinki of refusing cooperation between the countries’ border agencies.

The historically warm relations between the neighboring states became severely strained after Finland, along with many Western nations, imposed sanctions on Russia and began supplying Kiev with weapons. In an interview in March with Russian media, President Vladimir Putin blamed the West for the breakdown of previously “ideal relations” between Moscow and Helsinki. 

May 07, 2024 at 08:13PM

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