“It’s not worth the effort to come to Finland. The borders are closed,” Mari Rantanen, the minister of the interior, said while referring to Finland’s southeastern border with Russia.

Mari Rantanen (Finns), the minister of the interior, emphasized in a press conference on November 16, 2023 that it’s currently not worthwhile to come to Finland via the eastern border. Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY

Finland closes several southeastern border crossings.

Mari Rantanen (Finns), the minister of the interior, said in a press conference on Thursday that Finland will completely close the border crossings at Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala until February. The border crossings will be closed to all traffic between Friday and Saturday night. They will remain closed until February 18.

In addition, the reception of asylum applications will be concentrated at the Salla and Vartius border crossings. It will not be possible to apply for asylum at the other border crossings that will remain open.

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In recent days, the number of asylum seekers arriving at the eastern border from Russia has increased due to the Russian authorities allowing people without the necessary entry documents to cross the border.

Minister of the Interior Rantanen emphasized that the government wants to give a clear message to those arriving from Russia: “It is not worth the effort to come to Finland. The borders are closed,” Rantanen said.

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Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) and Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen (Finns) emphasized at the press conference that the increasing flood of undocumented asylum seekers must be stopped. Photograph: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) called the government’s actions “tough and exceptional.”

“We want to send a strong message that we want this phenomenon to stop. It is also a message to those third-country nationals. That is why we have taken these measures as proportionate in this situation. If this continues, we will then have more means available for the entire border. But now these are the measures in this situation,” Prime Minister Orpo said.

Around 280 asylum seekers have arrived in Finland through the eastern border, according to Markku Hassinen, the deputy chief of the Finnish Border Guard, who was speaking at the press conference. “The latest reports have indicated that this phenomenon is already spreading northwards today,” he said and continued, “There is a clear risk of escalation and these measures are aimed at preventing the situation from getting out of hand.”

RED: Closed crossing points. YELLOW: Concentrated crossing points for asylum seekers. Illustration: Wikimedia Commons/FINLAND TODAY

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