Asylum seekers are accompanied by Finnish border police personnel as they arrive at the Vartius border station in northern Finland. EPA-EFE/JANNE KURONEN


Finland extends Russia border closure


Finland will extend the closure of its border with Russia by four weeks, the ministry of interior said, confirming earlier reports that all crossings would remain shut.

On January 10, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sari Essayah told national broadcaster YLE that the border, which had otherwise been set to reopen on January 15, would remain closed until February 11 at least.

Finland closed its border with Russia late last year in response to a growing inflow of asylum seekers, which it said was an orchestrated move by Moscow, a claim the Kremlin denies.

When two border crossings reopened briefly in December, more than 300 asylum seekers entered from Russia within two days, the Finnish Border Guard then said, after which the country closed the entire border for another month.

“Based on the information gathered by the authorities, the threat of the phenomenon restarting and expanding as previously experienced is likely”, the interior ministry said on January 11 announcing the extended closure.