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Finland looking to extend border closure with Russia – media

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo has called it important that the border remains “calm”

Finland is reportedly planning to extend the closure of its border with Russia for at least another month, according to Finnish media outlets citing sources within the country’s government. The current decision to suspend the operation of border crossing points is set to expire on January 14.

According to the Helsingin Sanomat and Iltalehti news agencies, Finnish lawmakers are set to convene on Thursday to discuss an extension of the policy, which was initially introduced last month. That was after Helsinki accused Moscow of orchestrating a migration crisis on the border. According to the outlets, government sources say there are currently no political or legal impediments to an extension.

While the Finnish Interior Ministry has not yet commented on these reports, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo claimed in an interview with YLE published on Monday that the border should remain closed because “nothing has changed in Russia” and it was necessary to ensure a calm situation along the border.

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Orpo explained that the decision to reopen the checkpoints revolves around choosing either to ensure national security or to consider the situation of Russians living in Finland. “The government has come to the conclusion that border security is a critical issue for us,” he said.

In November, Finland gradually shut down all of its border crossings with Russia, citing an increase in the number of migrants from third nations seeking to cross into its territory. In mid-December, Helsinki decided to reopen two of its eight border crossings, but soon shut them again, once more pointing to an influx of asylum seekers.

Helsinki has accused Moscow of deliberately orchestrating the migrant surges as a “hybrid attack,” while the Kremlin has vehemently rejected such claims as “completely baseless.”

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The head of Finland’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, Marie Rantanen, stated earlier this week that Helsinki would not re-open the checkpoints, because “there is a risk that Russia will continue to engage in such activities if the border is open.”

 

January 10, 2024 at 10:46PM
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