SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 5 March 2024, Tuesday |

Finland, youngest NATO ally, seals all it border crossings with Russia

Finland said that Russia is conducting an “influence” operation within the European Union and has opted to shut down all its land borders with the nation governed by Vladimir Putin.
All but one Finland-Russia border crossing was open for transit of people and goods. But after what was reported to be an “extraordinary cabinet meeting” in Helsinki, it was announced that the Raja-Jooseppi crossing would be closed in the far north.

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said that the dcision was made following the unveiling of “new information” this week.
The disclosure of new information, the prime minister claimed, has strengthened Helsinki’s belief that Moscow was deliberately sending in migrants over the border. Helsinki, however, did not provide any evidence for its claims.

“The phenomenon seen at the border in recent weeks must be stopped,” Orpo said at a press conference.

“This is not only about the number of visitors but the phenomenon itself. This is about Russia’s influence [on] activities and we do not accept that.”

Finland-Russia ties in recent months
Finland has accused Russia of trying to destabilise its national security after nearly a thousand migrants attempted to use its eastern border crossings this month. The number was up from just a few dozen in previous months.

The historically neutral Finland effectively went into the US camp after its joined NATO in April, partly in response to Moscow’s military offensive in Ukraine.

Helsinki has accused Moscow of engaging in “hybrid warfare”, a tactic used to stoke tensions without a declared of conflict.

Earlier this month, Finland closed its seven other checkpoints with Russia along their 1,340km border.

Finland’s inclusion to the transatlantic military alliance has led to outrage in and beyond Moscow’s corridors of power.

Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, said last week that Russia “deeply regretted” Finland’s decision to join NATO and that Helsinki had abandoned “longstanding, very kind relations based on mutual respect.”

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