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The Raja-Jooseppi border crossing is located 300 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle and will be closed from Thursday

Photo: Emmi Korhonen / AFP

Finland's Prime Minister Petteri Orpo has announced that the country will close its entire border with Russia for two weeks on Thursday night. At a press conference, he justified the decision with concerns about illegal migration. Finland accuses Moscow of allowing refugees to cross the border into Finland without the necessary papers, where they then apply for asylum.

"We have evidence that, unlike in the past, the Russian border authorities are not only allowing people without proper papers to enter the Finnish border, but are also actively helping them to get to the border zone," said Finland's Foreign Minister Valtonen.

Last week, Finland had already closed seven border posts to travelers from Russia due to the large influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa, leaving only the northernmost border crossing in the Arctic open. But the Raja-Jooseppi border crossing, located 300 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, is now also to be closed. Only freight transport will then be permitted, according to the government.

Help requested from Frontex

According to the Finnish Border Guard, around 900 asylum seekers from countries such as Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen entered Finland from Russia in November alone. Previously, it was on average less than one per day.

The Finnish government had already asked the EU border agency Frontex for help. It is about personnel and technical equipment, the border guard said. Finnish media report that the Border Guard has officially asked the Armed Forces for help in building barbed wire barriers at the border stations.

Moscow rejected the Finnish authorities' claim that Russia had encouraged the influx of refugees at the border in order to punish Finland for joining NATO.