The police helicopter was on a short deployment on the border with Russia in March 2023. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Norway nixes border surveillance helicopter despite "weaponized migration" from Murmansk

Despite hundreds of migrants queuing up in the Murmansk region with a strong will to make it to Europe, Norwegian police authorities are unwilling to send a helicopter north for surveillance along the remote wilderness border in polar night and freezing cold.
November 24, 2023


Murmansk governor Andrei Chibis says one person attempting to cross the border illegally is stopped. Situation is tense at Russia’s Lotta checkpoint with Raja-Jooseppi, the only still open border crossing to Finnish Lapland.

Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo earlier in the week called the situation “a systematic and organized action by the Russian authorities.”

Norwegian police authorities, however, are still reluctant to send north a helicopter for border surveillance and rescue in case migrants try to make it into Norway in the wilderness.

“Whether the police helicopter should fly north is an assessment based on the needs of the police’s operational activities across the country,” says head of the Police Directorate’s Preparedness Section, Jørn Schjelderup, when asked why the helicopter is not already deployed to the border areas with Russia. 


These migrants were assisted by Russia’s FSB Border Guard service at Lotta [on the Russian side of the border from Raja-Jooseppi] checkpoint on Friday. Screenshot from video posted by Governor Andrei Chibis / Telegram


Last fall, when the Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl visited the border, the helicopter followed to strengthen surveillance, despite no migrants being reported from the Russian side of the border. Also in March, when Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt visited the border guards, the police helicopter flew north. 


“The police helicopter was in Finnmark for a limited period in September 2022 and in March 2023 to help solve tasks related to increased surveillance along the border between Norway and Russia,” Schjelderup explains.

The Murmansk governor writes on Telegram that there are no longer any migrants at the Salla border crossing after Finland decided to close the checkpoint after opening hours on Thursday.

“55 foreign citizens will be transported from there to Russia’s only open checkpoint with Finland, the Lotta border crossing.”

Three migrants went to Finland at Raja-Jooseppi [across the border from Lotta] on Friday, the Finnish border guard service said as previously reported by the Barents Observer

Governor Chibis told state-controlled news agency Interfax that he is closely monitoring what happens on the Norwegian-Russian border. 

In total, more than 400 migrants are in the Murmansk region, the governor informed.  

None of the migrants have so far been directed by FSB towards the border with Norway. 

Unlike Finland, Norwegian police use military border guards as their main asset to patrol the border with Russia in the terrain. The military has neither a permanent helicopter nor drones deployed for border surveillance.  

Norway shares a 198 kilometer land border with Russia’s Murmansk region. 



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