Finland contemplates reopening border with Russia

(MENAFN) Prime Minister Petteri Orpo of Finland has indicated the possibility of partially reopening the country's border with Russia, contingent upon the adoption of a proposed law aimed at bolstering measures for managing migrant influxes. The draft legislation, put forth by the ruling coalition, seeks to empower border agents to redirect migrants attempting to enter from Russia without undergoing asylum application processes.

Orpo emphasized the relative tranquility of Finland's eastern border, attributing it largely to the government's decision to close border crossings with Russia the previous year. Speaking to reporters and in an interview with Yle radio, Orpo outlined plans to cautiously reopen the border once the legislation is ratified, positioning it as a component of the government's strategy for frontier management.

In response to a surge in migrant crossings from Russian territory, Finland implemented border closures and shipping bans in late November, following the entry of over 1,300 asylum seekers, predominantly from Africa and the Middle East, over a four-month period. This influx represented a stark departure from the previous average of a few hundred migrants per year, prompting Finnish authorities to attribute responsibility to Moscow, alleging a deliberate tactic of migration "weaponization." However, Russia has refuted these claims made by Helsinki.

According to Border Guard data cited by Orpo, fewer than 40 migrants have traversed the border from Russia through wilderness routes this year, subsequent to Finland's closure of its land crossings. Nonetheless, Finnish officials maintain that the proposed legislation remains imperative, citing concerns that warmer weather could facilitate increased migrant movement. Orpo referenced intelligence reports indicating the presence of "thousands" of individuals in Russia awaiting opportunities to reach the Finnish border.



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