| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

EU deploys agents to help Finland bolster Russian border

Frontex, the European Union border agency, declared its plans to send staff and assets to Finland to address what it believes is orchestrated “weaponized migration” by Russia.
Some 50 border agents and other staff will be in place next week, according to Frontex.

Patrol cars and other equipment will also provide “significant reinforcement” for Finnish agents.

Finnish authorities said more than 700 migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Morocco, Somalia, Syria and Yemen have arrived at its border since November 1, most without proper identification, visas or documents. This compares to just a few dozen arrivals in September and October.

‘Russia started this, and Russia can also stop it,’ says Finnish PM
Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo accused Russia of being behind what he called “a serious disruption of border security,” adding: “Finland cannot be influenced, Finland cannot be destabilized. Russia started this, and Russia can also stop it.”

Orpo called the situation “a systematic and organized action by the Russian authorities.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova denied the accusation, saying, “Finnish authorities are beginning to make clumsy excuses, rehashing Russophobic sentiment.”

Finnish authorities said the change in posture from Moscow is a direct result of Finland setting aside decades of non-alignment policy to join NATO in April. This was a direct response to Russia’s February 2022 invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Russia had warned that there would be “countermeasures” should Finland join the military alliance.

Situation reminiscent of previous Belarus activity
The current situation along Russia and Finland’s 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border — the EU’s easternmost — is reminiscent of a similar situation from two years ago in which Poland, Latvia and Lithuania accused Russian-allied Belarus of having shuttled migrants to their borders in retaliation for EU sanctions leveled against Minsk.

Belarus, too, denied any role despite evidence to the contrary.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson referred to the prior situation, saying she was experiencing a certain sense of “deja vu.”

  • DW