Finland Extends Indefinite Border Closure with Russia Amid Migration

Finland Extends Indefinite Border Closure with Russia Amid Migration

Finland has extended the closure of its border crossing with Russia indefinitely. This decision is due to concerns about unauthorized migrants entering the country from Russia.

The Finnish government cited the risk of “instrumentalized migration” orchestrated by Moscow as the reason behind this move.

Closure of terrestrial and maritime border crossings

All land border crossings between Finland and Russia will be closed starting April 15th.

Moreover, the ports of Haapasari, Nuijamaa, and Santio, which were open for international travel, will also be off-limits for border crossings.

These measures will stay in place until the government decides it is safe to lift them.

Russia’s alleged weaponization of migration

According to the Finnish Interior Ministry, there is evidence indicating that Russia is still orchestrating border crossings to exert hybrid influence.

Interior Minister Mari Rantanen stated, “Finnish authorities consider it to be a long-term situation. We have seen nothing this spring to suggest the situation has fundamentally changed.”

Previous border closures and concerns

Last year, Finland had to shut down its border with Russia. This happened because Russia made it easier for immigrants from Syria and Somalia to come into Finland.

Both Finland and the European Union (EU) have criticized Russia for using migration as a tool for its own purposes.

The number of people coming into Finland without proper documents went up significantly in the three months after September 2023. This increase came shortly after Finland joined NATO.

Most of these migrants are from the Middle East and Africa, like Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

These migrants are asking for asylum in Finland, which is part of the EU and has a population of about 5.6 million.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s Stance

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo has accused Russia multiple times of intentionally directing migrants towards the typically well-guarded border area between Russia and Finland, which also marks the EU’s northern external border.

The Kremlin has denied Helsinki’s claims, stating that the Finnish government is unwilling to engage in dialogue about the border.

President Alexander Stubb of Finland has emphasized the country’s support for Ukraine and defended the decision to keep the eastern border closed indefinitely.

He criticized Vladimir Putin for manipulating migration for cynical, ruthless, and unjust purposes.

Stubb also noted that Moscow fears Russian men will flee across the border to avoid conscription into the army.

Controversial repatriation bill

The Finnish government is considering implementing a tougher border law. This law would enable them to quickly return migrants to Russia if they are determined to have no valid reasons for seeking asylum.

Yet, there has been backlash against this proposal. Critics are concerned it might breach international agreements on borders.

Ripple effects on Schengen’s evolving landscape

The temporary closure of Finland’s border with Russia might affect those who want to visit or immigrate to the EU.

Although asylum seekers can still apply at Finnish airports and harbors, the tighter rules could impact travelers who want to stay longer or pursue residency options such as investment visas, family reunification, or student visas.

Also, as the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) gets closer to launching in mid-2025, travelers from countries that do not need visas might undergo extra checks when visiting the Schengen area.

Redefining EU immigration policies

Finland is taking a firm stance, which is part of a bigger trend in the EU, where nations are looking again at immigration rules because of political tensions and concerns about safety.

The proposed repatriation bill, though controversial, signals a potential move toward tighter border controls.

As the Schengen area struggles with migration challenges, Finland and other countries might prioritize national security over open borders, and harmonizing immigration rules across the bloc.

Resolute stance amidst shifting geopolitical landscapes

As Finland deals with the tricky issue of migration while facing tensions with Russia, the decision to indefinitely close border crossings shows the country’s strong stance on controlling its borders.

The government's actions are meant to tackle concerns about Russia using migration for its own purposes, all while following international laws and staying true to Finland’s promises to the EU and NATO.