(MENAFN) Finland is set to close its eastern border with Russia, shutting down the last open checkpoint, in a move announced by Prime Minister Petteri Orpo during a press conference on Tuesday. The closure of the Raja-Jooseppi crossing, situated above the Arctic Circle, will be in effect for two weeks, until December 13. This decision comes in the wake of the closure of seven other checkpoints on the Finnish-Russian border earlier this month, following a surge in incoming migration that Helsinki attributed to Moscow, allegedly in retaliation for Finland's NATO accession earlier this year.
Describing the situation as "exceptional" and a matter of national security, Interior Minister Mari Rantanen emphasized that Finland is the target of what she termed a "Russian hybrid operation." The closure is part of broader efforts by Finland to address security concerns linked to the increased migration activity along its border.
Under international law, Finland is obligated to keep at least one border crossing open to asylum-seekers. The Finnish border guard has reportedly been instructed to redirect new arrivals to the country's airports and ports, where they can apply for asylum. However, the upcoming closure has drawn criticism from the United Nations refugee agency's representative to the Nordic and Baltic countries, who argues that the move is "contrary to international law."
Prime Minister Orpo defended the decision, citing intelligence suggesting that Russia was assisting asylum-seekers in reaching the Finnish border. He asserted that the closure is legally justified, characterizing the migration activity as organized rather than a genuine emergency.
The move underscores the complex dynamics between Finland and Russia and raises questions about the broader implications for regional security and international law.
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