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Finland Extends Russian Border Closure until 14 April

Finland will keep its border with Russia closed until 14 April, as per an announcement by the Finnish government yesterday afternoon. The eight Russian border checkpoints were scheduled to resume operations on 11 February, however, the land cross-border travel ban has been extended citing continuing concerns of a threat to the national security of Finland.

The extensive border between Finland and Russia, which spans some 1,340 kilometers, has been completely sealed off since December last year following a sudden increase in attempts of illegal migrant crossings from Russia, reports the Mayor.

Based on the information provided by the authorities, it is likely that instrumentalised migration would resume if border crossing points were opened at the eastern border,” said the government statement, quoted by Yle news agency.

No signs of change on the Russian border 

Finland is accusing Russia of engaging in hybrid warfare by allowing and even encouraging migrants from third countries, notably from the Middle East, to attempt crossing the border and gain entry into the European Union.

Finnish Interior Minister Mari Rantanen was adamant that Russia is showing “no signs of changing its behavior” and that there were likely hundreds, or even thousands of migrants waiting on the other side for the checkpoints to open so they can try to apply for asylum and gain entry.

Russian officials, for their part, are accusing Finland of trying to create a humanitarian crisis and refusing to engage in a debate regarding the allegations about an orchestrated migrant channeling operation.

Some experts have interpreted Russia’s actions as retaliation and punishment for Finland’s choice to join the NATO military bloc last year after having maintained neutrality for decades prior.

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