EU state preparing to shut border with Russia

Finnish Interior Minister Mari Rantanen claims Helsinki wants to prevent a repeat of the 2015 migrant crisis

Finland may soon close border checkpoints with Russia for security reasons, citing concerns about illegal immigrants from third countries, Finnish Interior Minister Marie Rantanen announced on Tuesday. Helsinki recently tightened border measures by banning the crossing of people by bicycle from Russia.

Rantanen said, in a press conference, that her ministry will prepare a proposal for the government, noting that the restrictions may come into effect if necessary. “To combat a serious threat to public order, national security or public health.”

She noted that any final decision also depends on Russia, and claimed that Moscow changed its border policy to allow illegal immigrants to flow towards Finland.

Rantanen declined to speculate on the reason behind Moscow’s alleged behavior, but he pointed it out “Maybe they are upset about something in Finland’s activities.” The minister added that Helsinki held contacts with Moscow, but the talks did not produce the desired result.

Moscow has not yet commented on the Finnish allegations.

According to Finnish authorities, about 60 people arrived at the country’s eastern border on Monday and Tuesday, most of them from Iraq, Somalia and Yemen.

Rantanen stressed that Finland’s main concern is not the number of migrants, but rather preventing a large-scale crisis similar to the one that sent shockwaves across the European Union in 2015.

Relations between Russia and Finland have deteriorated significantly since the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict in February 2022, and Helsinki’s subsequent decision to break from decades of neutrality and join NATO.

Finland also supported EU sanctions against Russia. In September, it followed the bloc’s recommendations on import restrictions and banned most cars with Russian license plates from entering the country, while demanding that any such vehicles already on its territory leave by March 2024.

The Moscow embassy in Helsinki on Monday issued a warning that Finland has banned people from crossing the border with Russia on bicycles for… “Unlimited period.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denounced the European Union’s recent recommendations “Simply racist.” Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen acknowledged in September that Western sanctions “Harms ordinary people” But she claimed that Helsinki did “no choice” Rather, to impose measures.

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