On November 14th, 2023, the Finnish Interior Minister decried the Russian Federation for allowing individuals to approach the Finnish border without proper documentation.
According the Interior Minister Rantanen, 71 Russian asylum seekers have fled to the Finnish border last week alone, a significant increase from the last year. She claimed that the Russian Federation is failing to vet or is intentionally allowing persons to flood the Finnish border crossings. She said:
“The government is responding to this situation and will proceed when the legal requirements are met. The government is ready to use all the means allowed by the legislation.”
She is referring to Finnish law which allows the Interior Ministry to restrict or close all border crossings to a single asylum center if an influx of seekers hit border posts.
Her and Colonel Mikko Lehmus of the Main Staff of the Border Guard have claimed that the profile of the border crossers has changed significantly from ethnic Russians to persons from the Middle East and Africa such as Iraqis and Somalis. A similar tactic was used by Belarus at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine to flood Poland’s border with Middle Eastern and African asylum seekers. The Finnish government is taking proactive steps to ensure Russia cannot employ similar hybrid warfare tactics on its borders.
In a press conference tomorrow, Interior Minister Rantanen is expected to announce closure of the Vaalimaa and Nuijamaa border crossings in South East Finland while also restricting all traffic elsewhere.
This comes after July 2023 announcements that visa restrictions against Russian nationals would be extended indefinitely and March 2023 announcements that a 300km border fence would be built on the Southeastern border with Russia.