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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Frontex Boosts Support for Finland’s Russian Border Patrol

The European Border Protection Agency, Frontex, is set to deploy 50 border guards and additional personnel to Finland in response to heightened concerns about border security. The move comes in the wake of increased asylum seekers crossing from Russia, prompting Finland to close all but one of its 1,340-kilometer border crossing points.

In a statement released on November 23, Frontex outlined its plan to provide “significant reinforcement” to Finland’s border security, with the deployment expected to commence as early as next week. The initial group of officers is scheduled to arrive on November 29 to expand an existing mission involving 10 officers. The reinforcements will consist of border surveillance officers, support for migrant registration, document experts, and interpreters, addressing the broader humanitarian aspects of the situation, particularly given the challenging weather conditions and lack of preparation among arriving individuals.

Frontex stressed the impact of events on the Finnish-Russian border on the overall security of the European Union. Finnish public broadcaster YLE reported that on November 23, around 100 people from various countries sought asylum at the Vartius and Salla crossings. Allegations have been made against Moscow for facilitating the movement of migrants to the border, a claim denied by the Kremlin.

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Finland, asserting its resilience, announced the closure of most border crossing points from November 24, leaving only the northernmost crossing, Raja-Jooseppi (known as Lotta on the Russian side), operational. Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, addressing parliament, accused Russia of initiating the situation and called for a cessation of such activities. The closure of crossing points prompted Finnish authorities to fortify the Raja-Jooseppi crossing in anticipation of an influx of migrants.

In response, Andrei Chibis, the governor of Russia’s Murmansk region, reported a “congestion of refugees” in the Kandalaksha region. Russian border guards and police are reportedly scrutinizing the documents of foreigners, although it remains unclear whether those lacking the necessary documents will be permitted to proceed through the checkpoint. Meanwhile, on November 22, Finnish authorities began installing barriers, including concrete obstacles topped with barbed wire, at selected crossing points.

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