Finland extends border closure with Russia 'until further notice'

Finland said Thursday its land and maritime borders with Russia will remain closed "until further notice." Photo by Tomi Hanninen/EPA-EFE
Finland said Thursday its land and maritime borders with Russia will remain closed "until further notice." Photo by Tomi Hanninen/EPA-EFE

April 4 (UPI) -- Finland's government said Thursday the land border crossings with Russia will stay closed indefinitely.

Beginning April 15 maritime border crossings with Russia at the ports of Nuijamaa and Santio will also be closed to leisure boating, Finland's Interior Ministry said in a statement.


"The Government decided on the matter in its session on April 4, 2024. The decision will remain in force until further notice, but no longer than is necessary,"

Finland cited "instrumentalized migration" as the reason for the closings.

That is a term for the Russian government's strategy of intentionally sending large numbers of migrants to Finland's borders as a means to weaken or destabilize the country.

"There are hundreds and possibly thousands of people close to Finland's border on the Russian side that could be instrumentalized against Finland," Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said in a statement.

Rantanen said that Finnish authorities see the border closings as a long-term situation.

The government said it has not seen any signs that Russia's tactic of using migrants to try to destabilize Finland has changed and that springtime would provide opportunities for Russia to put more pressure on Finland.


"By closing border crossing points for maritime traffic to leisure boating, the government is preparing for the possibility that instrumentalized migration could expand to maritime traffic as spring progresses," the Interior Ministry said. "This would be dangerous to people seeking to enter Finland and would burden maritime search and rescue."

Finland said instrumentalized migration is a way that Russia can affect security and social stability not only in Finland but in the rest of the European Union.

The Interior Ministry said a law to combat it is being drafted in Finland "under which the government could decide to restrict the reception of applications for international protection in a limited area on Finland's national border and in its immediate vicinity."

In February Finland extended the closure of its border with Russia until April 14. The action announced Thursday keeps the borders closed indefinitely after April 14.

Finland's government said then that Russia "is causing human suffering and using people as tools."

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month said he would re-deploy troops to the border in response to Finland's ascension to NATO.

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