Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Finland Blocks Border Crossings to Stop Migrants It Says were Sent by Russia; Finland Will Close 4 Border Crossings with Russia, Accusing Moscow of Organizing a Flow of Migrants

Finland blocks border crossings to stop migrants it says were sent by Russia:
Finland will erect barriers at four crossings on its border with Russia from midnight, officials said on Friday, in a bid to stem an increase in migrants that Helsinki says has been orchestrated by Moscow.
Finland has accused Russian authorities of funnelling migrants to the crossings in retaliation for its decision to increase defence cooperation with the United States, an assertion dismissed by the Kremlin.
Barriers will go up at four of the nine crossings with Russia, at Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala in its southeast, and the stations will remain closed for all traffic until Feb. 18, the Finnish Border Guard said.
The first physical confrontation between border guards and migrants took place at Niirala border station before 1900 local time (1700 GMT), more than an hour before the station's closing time, Finland's public broadcaster YLE reported.
YLE witnessed one migrant being stopped with a chemical irritant and others being pushed back by border guards after a group of some 30 migrants arrived at the Niirala station from Russia on foot and on bicycles and tried to storm through the entry point.
"Our aim is to use barrier devices to prevent entry," the Border Guard's head of international affairs, Matti Pitkaniitty, told reporters. The measures were a response to changes in Russia's border policy, he added.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that Finland was making a "big mistake" by choosing a path of confrontation with Russia, state news agency TASS reported.
"(One can) only express deep regret that the Finnish authorities have taken the path of destroying bilateral relations," TASS quoted Peskov as saying. --->READ MORE HERE
Finland will close 4 border crossings with Russia, accusing Moscow of organizing a flow of migrants:
Finland will close four crossing points on its long border with Russia to stop the flow of Middle Eastern and African migrants that it accuses Moscow of ushering to the border in recent months, the government said Thursday.
Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo and Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said the southeastern crossing points -- Imatra, Niirala, Nuijamaa and Vaalimaa -- will be closed at midnight Friday on the Finland-Russia land border that serves as the European Union’s external frontier.
It runs a total of 1,340 kilometers (832 miles), mostly through thick forests in the south, all the way to the rugged landscape in the Arctic north. There are currently nine crossing points, with one dedicated to rail travel only.
“Operations of the Russian border authorities have changed,” Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo told reporters, adding that the four crossings would remain closed until Feb. 18.
He referred to dozens of migrants, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, who have arrived in the Nordic nation over recent days without proper documentation and have sought asylum after allegedly being helped by Russian authorities to travel to the heavily controlled border zone.
This represents a major change, since Finnish and Russian border authorities cooperated for decades in stopping people without the necessary visas or passports before they could attempt to enter either country.
Finnish authorities said this week that Russia has in recent months started allowing undocumented travelers to access the border zone and enter crossing stations where they can request asylum in Finland.
The Finnish Border Guard says migrants have in the past days arrived mainly from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Turkey and Somalia, and nearly all have arrived at the border zone on bicycles that Finnish and Russian media reports say were provided and sold to them.
Most of them used Russia only as a transit country to enter Finland and the EU, officials said. --->READ MORE HERE
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