Finland closes all but one border crossing with Russia

Finland's Prime Minister Petteri Orpo has announced that seven of the country's eight border crossing points with Russia will be closed. The Deputy Chancellor of Justice Mikko Puumalainen had so far prevented a complete closure of the borders. In November alone, several hundred migrants - mostly from the Middle East, Africa, Iraq and Yemen - have already crossed the Russian border into Finland without valid documents.

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Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Constitution applies despite high alert

The objections of the Deputy Chancellor of Justice are justified, emphasises Helsingin Sanomat:

“Mikko Puumalainen did not prevent the decision - the government decided not to go ahead with it after consulting him. On Wednesday, the Ministry of the Interior finalised a new draft on further restrictions on the eastern border, which, according to Puumalainen, is unproblematic. ... It's clear that in the current situation it's not the number of asylum seekers that poses a problem, but the change in Russia's behaviour. ... There is also reason to believe that Russia will aggressively challenge Finland in an even more unpleasant way. We should make serious preparations for this. But at the same time we must take the constitution seriously.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Using old methods in hybrid warfare

Allowing illegal border crossings is a classic Russian means of exerting pressure, Jutarnji list notes:

“Russia has once again resorted to the tactic of 'hybrid warfare', as it did in the winter of 2015 when it sent thousands of migrants to its northern border with Finland. ... Since Finland joined Nato this year, tensions between the two countries have intensified and the Finns now believe this is revenge for an announced military agreement with the US.”

Etelä-Suomen Sanoma (FI) /

Security comes first

National security is the ultimate priority, Etelä-Suomen Sanomat stresses:

“Finland must also consider moral issues: to what extent do international treaties require asylum applications to be processed, or should asylum seekers be left at the mercy of this icy weather between the barriers at the border? However, Finland's security comes first. No compromises can be made here. For example, how can we be sure that there are no soldiers or activists among the arrivals? If the situation requires a complete closure of the border, then it must be closed.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Moscow only benefits in the short term

Helsingin Sanomat examines the consequences for Russia:

“For Russia, the closure of the borders is fine if it wants to become a closed police state like the Soviet Union. Drafted men can no longer slip away to the West and other citizens won't be exposed to harmful influences. But this theory is not watertight. Russia's borders with Turkey, Georgia, Kazakhstan and other countries, via which many Russian men have already fled the mobilisation, remain open. ... Moreover, the Kremlin is shooting itself in the foot by making it more difficult to smuggle sanctioned goods across the Finnish land border.”

Postimees (EE) /

Joint defence of eastern border needed

Russia has already sent refugees to Narva, Estonia's closest border crossing to Finland, Postimees writes in consternation:

“Estonia must be prepared to fend off the migratory pressure that Russia is exerting on several of its neighbouring countries in the form of a hybrid war. However, this defence will be most effective if done in cooperation with Estonia's neighbours and the European Union. Moscow and Minsk continue to put the EU to the test - clearly if the European Union's eastern border does not hold up, the Schengen Area will also begin to fall apart as EU member states start to close their borders.”