At midnight between Friday and Saturday, Finland will erect barriers at four of the nine border crossings along the country's 1,340-kilometre border with Russia.

The background to this is that a large number of people have recently crossed the Finnish-Russian border, which serves as the EU's external border. Many of them with inadequate travel documents.

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo has stated that dozens of people, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, have applied for asylum after help from the Russian authorities to travel to the border area.

'A serious threat'

According to the Associated Press, what is happening is in contrast to decades of cooperation between border authorities to stop people without the necessary visas and passports from entering any of the countries.

Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen describes it as "a serious threat to public order and security".

"There are clear indications that the authorities of a foreign state have had an impact on those who illegally cross the border into Finland," she said on Thursday.

"There are several previous cases where Russia has used migrants as a kind of hybrid instrument," says analyst Hugo von Essen.

The border stations Nuijamaa (pictured above), Imatra, Niirala and Vaalimaa near St. Petersburg will remain closed until at least 18 February 2024. This was after people from Yemen, Syria and Iraq, among other countries, allegedly cycled across the border to Finland. Photo: Vesa Moilanen

Estonia, an EU country, has also noticed a change. A total of 19 Syrian and Somali citizens without Schengen visas are said to have crossed the border into the country on Thursday, reports the website ERR.

They were allowed to return to Russia again as none of them applied for asylum, according to Egert Belitšev, deputy head of the Estonian border forces. Interior Minister Lauri Läänemet described what is happening as a "hybrid attack" from the Russian side with the aim of destabilizing and creating unrest, according to ERR.

The National Police and Border Guard says it is ready to close the border crossings with Russia if the pressure increases.

The Kremlin has regretted the Finnish actions but has not commented on the accusations.