Russia lodges protest over Finland border closures

The Finnish president has said it has become “impossible” to return asylum seekers who do not meet criteria for protection, while the prime minister has not ruled out further action at the border.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that it had lodged a formal complaint over Finland’s closure of four border crossings.

Finland said that the decision to close the crossings was to stem the flow of asylum seekers. Finnish authorities have claimed that migrants are purposely being ushered towards the border by Russia, allegations the Kremlin has denied.

Finland is a member of the European Union and joined the NATO military alliance in April after decades of non-alignment due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland shares a 1,340 kilometer (830 mile) border with Russia.

What Russia said about the border closures

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the decision had been “rushed” and was made “without any consultations with the Russian side.”

It argued that the measure violated the rights and interests of tens of thousands of people on both sides of the Russian-Finnish border.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov condemned the measure and denied Finland’s accusation that Russia was deliberately bringing asylum seekers towards its western border.

“This causes nothing but deep regret, because we had long-standing, very good relations with Finland, pragmatic, based on mutual respect,” he said.

“We regret that these relations were replaced by such an exclusively Russophobic position, which the leaders of this country began to espouse,” Peskov added.

How Finland sees the situation at the Russia border

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said that the deportation of applicants who did not meet the criteria for asylum was becoming “impossible.”

“Deportation of migrants who don’t meet the criteria for asylum has become impossible, so entering the border means you stay in that country if you want to,” he said during a state visit to Poland.

Niinisto called for the implementation of a solution across the European Union.

“It is impossible that each country just by itself tries to take care of the situation which might break out in a neighboring country immediately afterwards,” he argued.

Meanwhile, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said that Helsinki could “take more action,” but did not specify whether this meant closing all remaining crossings with Russia.

“The main thing is that we are decisive… If there is no change in the situation, we will take more action quickly,” he said during a visit to the Vartius crossing, which is still open.