Sweden Supports Finland in Closing Border with Russia

Tuesday, 28 November 2023

Sweden supports Finland's decision to close several border crossings in response to the recent influx of migrants and asylum seekers from Russia.

As reported by Euractiv, hundreds of asylum seekers have arrived at border points between Russia and Finland in recent weeks.

"The situation on the Finnish border is being orchestrated by Russia and is aimed at dividing the West," Prime Minister of Sweden Ulf Kristersson said at a joint press conference with his Finnish counterpart Petteri Orpo.

"Sweden strongly supports Finland’s measures to protect not only the Finnish border but also the EU’s external border," the Swedish prime minister added.

The Finnish Immigration Service’s Asylum Unit reports that some asylum seekers who crossed the border in recent weeks have already had asylum claims refused, while others have withdrawn their applications.

However, Antti Lehtinen, Director of Finland’s Asylum Unit, said that no one has yet received a positive decision, adding that those whose applications have been rejected can still appeal.

Some of those who arrived in Finland earlier are known to have already applied for asylum in other EU countries and have left Finland.

Finland considers the situation a national security crisis, and the crossing of the border by migrants is being described as a Russian hybrid attack, especially since Russian forces are actively pushing migrants towards various border crossings in Finland.

In response, Finland has already closed all but one of its border crossings with Russia. The closed borders will remain closed for several more weeks.

"We see this as a matter of national security," Orpo warned, adding that his country is prepared to close the last border crossing if necessary.

Although Orpo noted that Finland does not have as many asylum seekers as Italy or Greece, he warned of "Russia’s aggression against the European Union".

"It’s a hybrid attack, and that’s why it’s so serious for the EU," he added.

Kristersson said that Sweden would lend a helping hand "with the situation if necessary".

"We, Norway and Denmark, if you look at the map, are countries that would obviously be directly affected, so we are ready to contribute, but it is based on Finland’s initiative," he added, without giving any detail about what such a contribution would look like.

On 27 November, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Moscow has been directly involved in the appearance of an increasing number of asylum seekers at the Finnish border.

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