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Finland Signals Extension of Russian Border Closure Over Migrant Crossings

A Finnish border security agent.

Finland will likely extend the closure of its eastern border with Russia due to the continued threat of migrant crossings, top officials in the Nordic country said Tuesday.

Last month, Finland closed its 1,340-kilometer border with Russia until Jan. 14, citing what it said was a spike in asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa.

Helsinki accused Moscow of orchestrating a migration crisis as part of a hybrid attack on the country, accusations which the Kremlin denies. 

The Finnish government is expected to meet this Thursday to decide on its next steps regarding the Russian border, Interior Minister Mari Rantanen told Finland’s broadcaster MTV3.

“It could be the case [that Helsinki will extend the Russian border closure until after Jan. 14],” Rantanen was quoted as saying.

“It seems that there’s been no change in Russia’s actions,” she added.

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo echoed Rantanen’s forecast in an interview with the broadcaster Yle.

“The information I have at the moment is that nothing’s changed in Russia,” Orpo was quoted as saying.

During Thursday’s meeting, officials will consider both issues of national security and those of Russian nationals living in Finland, Orpo said.

He underscored that “the government has come to the conclusion that border security is a critical issue for us.”

Moscow has warned that Finland’s reversal of its longstanding non-alignment policy to join NATO in April would lead to “countermeasures.”

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