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 fears new immigration wave at border with Russia


Finnish authorities fear a new influx of immigrants at several points along its border with Russia as part of what they see as the “hybrid war” Moscow is encouraging against the West.

Finland is deploying more border guard patrols, drones and electronic detection devices and is building fences along sections of the border.

Late last year, it shut all crossing points for travellers along its 1,340km border with Russia after some 1,300 migrants from nations such as Syria and Somalia arrived via that route.

Hot spots along the border between Finland and Russia

In the capital Helsinki, parliament is expected to approve tough new legislation before its summer recess.

Under the planned new laws, Finnish border guards will be able to call on thousands of reservists to help patrol the frontier, detect immigrants’ phone signals, send immigrants to detention centres or push them back into Russia without accepting their asylum applications.

“Finland cannot just allow the opening of such a new route into Europe,” said Finnish interior minister Mari Rantanen of the nationalist Finns Party.

Russia, for its part, has accused Finland of manufacturing the border situation by inviting the immigrants itself.

“We believe that the deliberate provocation of a ‘migration crisis’ on the Russian-Finnish state border is necessary for the Finnish authorities to implement the plans of NATO and, above all, the United States to deploy military field infrastructure and deploy foreign troops on their territory, including in areas bordering Russia,” the head of the Russian Federal Security Service’s (FSB) border service, Vladimir Kulishov, told the state-run RIA news agency on May 28.