Finnish authorities are closing four crossing points in its massive border with Russia due to allegations of the Kremlin funneling African and Middle Eastern migrants into the Scandinavian country.
In a Thursday announcement, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo and Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said the southeastern crossing points will be closed as of midnight Friday. The 832 miles of mainly treacherous terrain is the European Union’s eastern border.
Nine crossing points are normally in operation, with one dedicated to rail service.
Orpo told reporters that in recent days, dozens of migrants from the Middle East and Africa have appeared on the nation’s doorstep seeking asylum. They lacked proper documentation and were apparently escorted to the crossings by Russian authorities.
Norwegian Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl confirmed her nation, which also bumps up against Russia in its Arctic region, is likewise ready to close its border with its giant neighbor.
These reactions mark a stark contrast to the Biden administration in the face of millions, not dozens, invading the U.S.
It also marks a dramatic turn in normal protocol for the two countries. For decades, Russia and Finland cooperated in blocking access to people without proper visas or passports before they entered either country.
That changed in recent months, according to Finnish authorities. They charge that the Kremlin has actively permitted travelers without documentation access to the border zone that is normally stridently patrolled.
Finnish authorities believe they know Russia’s motivation for its sharp reversal. It concerns the nation’s strengthening of ties with the West, particularly the E.U. and the U.S.
Finland is engaged with military cooperation with the U.S., something the Kremlin staunchly opposes. This revenge motive is roundly dismissed by Moscow.
Then there’s the issue of Finland’s accession into the NATO alliance this year after several decades of staunch non-alignment. This action followed the Russian invasion of Ukraine and angered many in the Kremlin.
As for the E.U., President Ursula von der Leyen posted on social media that it “fully supports the measures taken by Finland.” She called Russian actions concerning African and Middle Eastern migrants “shameful.”