Russia may be opening a new migration route to the EU in an apparent hostile move by sending illegal migrants to Finland.
Finland’s Border Guard has reported a sharp increase in third-country nationals without proper papers reaching its south-eastern border and requesting asylum.
Helsinki is preparing to “take action” to handle the situation, interior minister Mari Rantanen said on November 14.
Russian authorities “have changed the way they work to allow travel to Finland despite a lack of documents”, Rantanen says.
The number of these migrants reaching the Finnish border “has grown significantly in a short time”, she says.
Defence Minister Antti Häkkänen says he will raise the issue of unusual cross-border traffic with Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and EU High Representative Josep Borrell.
Finland, Estonia, and Sweden’s defence ministers are due to go to Brussels to discuss the security situation around the Baltic Sea.
From August to the end of last week, 91 people lacking proper documents arrived at border crossings in south-eastern Finland.
Over one-third of those arrived last week, and a further 39 asylum seekers arrived on November 13.
Asylum seeker arrivals are concentrated at the Vaalimaa and Nuijamaa border crossings, said Colonel Mikko Lehmus, head of the Border Guard headquarters’ situation and risk analysis centre.
The numbers are concerning, but the border is under control, said Lehmus.
Russia now enables people without official papers to cross through the country, according to Finland.
The issue “has been discussed with Russia at the official level, but these talks have not led to the desired result,” says Rantanen, who describes the change by Moscow as an intentional move.
🔸Turvapaikanhakijoita eilisen 13.11. aikana yhteensä 39 @kaakkoisraja'n ylityspaikoilla. Seuraamme tilannetta.
— Kaakkois-Suomen raja (@kaakkoisraja) November 14, 2023
This April, Finland became Nato’s 31st member, to Moscow’s dismay. The length of its border with Nato doubled overnight.
Finland joined as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.