Finland closes all but Raja-Jooseppi border crossing
The decision follows a surge in migrants in recent weeks. Last Friday, the Government decided to close four major border crossings in the south, causing Russia’s FSB to push the migrants up north. This week, a few hundred people from Africa and the Middle East have made it across the border on bicycles in freezing cold at the two northern border checkpoints Vartius and Salla.
At Salla, temperatures have been down to -22°C.
The Barents Observer could Tuesday report that at least two of the hotels in Kandalaksha south on the Kola Peninsula confirmed that FSB Border Guard was in charge of transporting the migrants about 170 kilometers from the town to the Salla checkpoint with Finland.
According to the assessment of the Finnish authorities and the Government, instrumentalized migration from Russia and the escalation of the situation pose a serious threat to national security and public order.
Orpo said border closure is a clear signal to Russia that “we do not accept this” and keeping only Raja-Jooseppi open will make it very hard to push more migrants into Finland from Russia.
“Russia has caused and allowed this situation and they are also able to stop it,” the Prime Minister said at Thursday’s presser.
The decision will remain in force until 23 December 2023, according to the news update from the Ministry of Interior.
Raja-Jooseppi is very remote. The Lotta checkpoint on the Russian side of the border is in the wilderness of the taiga forest with no villages or other infrastructure other than the road and passport control building itself.
Distance from Murmansk to Lotta is 240 kilometers.
Ivalo, the nearest town on the Finnish side of the border is some 50 kilometers from Raja-Jooseppi.
Norway has Schengen-Europe’s northernmost border with Russia.
“We are monitoring very closely what happens in Finland and what measures are implemented there,” Chief of Staff with the Police in Finnmark, Tarjei Sirma-Tellefsen told the Barents Observer.
Norway’s Minister of Justice, Emilie Enger Mehl has previously told the Barents Observer that Storskog checkpoint can be closed at a few hours’ notice if the security situation worsens.
In 2015, some 5,500 migrants entered Norway via Storskog.