Tense at Raja-Jooseppi: Russia sends 55 migrants to Finnish border crossing point
According to Governor of Murmansk Andrei Chibis, a total of 55 foreign citizens are being transported to Lotta, the Russian side of the only border-crossing point to Finland still open. The migrants are likely to make it to Raja-Jooseppi, the Finnish crossing point, in the course of Saturday.
At the same time, Governor Chibis says that another 200 migrants are being sent by bus to St.Petersburg. These are people that have valid residency permits in Russia, he explains on his Telegram channel.
On Thursday, Governor Chibis said that up to 400 migrants were amassed near the border crossing point of Salla and that the situation could be described as a “humanitarian crisis.” Finnish authorities on Friday closed the Salla point, and all cross-border traveling between the countries can now only be made further north at the Lotta/Raja-Jooseppi point.
According to the Finnish Border Guard Service, a group of three people applied for asylum at Raja-Jooseppi on Friday the 24th. They are all from Yemen and traveled as a group.
Finnish authorities decided to close all other seven crossing points to Russia following the major increase in migrants crossing the border and asking for asylum.
Raja-Jooseppi is now the only crossing point now open for travellers between the two countries. It is open daily from 10 am to 2 pm.
On the 23rd of November, last day before its closure, a total of 58 migrants made it to Salla, the more southern crossing point.
Regional Russian Governor Andrei Chibis has put the full blame for the situation on the Finnish side, saying that the border closure was a sign of unfriendly and provocative actions.
On Thursday, the regional leader announced ‘a regime of high alert’ and said that a series of measures were implemented to resolve the situation. Reportedly, among the measures were the erection of several new checkpoints in the region. According to the Governor, migrants without valid documents were soon starting to “turn around and leave.”
“The establishment of the checkpoints has stimulated the foreigners to return to their cars and go back,” he said in a video announcement. He also confirmed that there on the 22nd of November had been attempts by migrants to illegally “break through the border.”
Meanwhile, the Finns are confident that the Russian side is deliberately sending the migrants to the border as part of a hybrid war operation.
When visiting the border crossing point of Vartius on Monday, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo explained that there are indications of an organized Russian effort to push the migrants to Finland.
The Finnish border crossing points will be closed at least until 23 December 2023.