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Finland to close entire border with Russia over concerns of ‘organized’ migrant crossings


Finland will close its remaining border crossing with Russia after accusing Moscow of flooding its borders with migrants over the Nordic nation’s decision to join NATO earlier this year.

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo told reporters on Tuesday that his government will close its last open border crossing with Russia due to the “exceptional” situation it accuses Russia of orchestrating.

“The government has decided to close all the crossing points on the entire eastern border,” Orpo said.

“Finland has a profound reason to suspect that the entry (of migrants) is organized by a foreign state,” Orpo continued. “This deals with Russia’s influencing operations and we won’t accept it. We don’t accept any attempt to undermine our national security. Russia has caused this situation, and it can also stop it.”

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Finland's Prime Minister Petteri Orpo

Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo has accused Moscow of ushering the migrants toward the Finnish border. (Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva via AP)

Finnish authorities have said that crossings along its border with Russia this month surged to about 900.

Finnish Border Guards escorting two migrants

Finnish border guards are seen above escorting two migrants at the Raja-Jooseppi international border crossing station with Russia, in Inari, northern Finland, on Monday. (Emmi Korhonen/Lehtikuva via AP)

Since August, some 1,000 migrants without visas or valid documentation from countries including Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen have come to the border, most of them seeking asylum in the country of 5.6 million.

Raja-Jooseppi international border crossing

Finland has decided to shut all eight of its border crossings with Russia following a surge of migrants crossing into the country. (Emmi Korhonen/Lehtikuva via AP)

Finland has accused Russian authorities of helping the asylum seekers travel to the heavily controlled border zone, many of them riding bicycles they were allegedly provided and sold.

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Moscow has denied the claims about being behind the flood of migrants. Earlier this month, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian authorities “deeply regret that the leadership of Finland chose the path of deliberate distancing from the previously good nature of our bilateral relations.”

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The Finland-Russia land border serves as the European Union’s external frontier and runs a total of 832 miles (1,340 kilometers), mostly through thick forests in the south, reaching the rugged landscape in the Arctic north. The border has eight crossing points, with one dedicated to rail travel only.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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