Russia’s ‘cynical’ actions at border aim to sow discontent, Finland says – POLITICO

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Russia’s attempts to flood the Finnish border with migrants are “deliberate, cynical, hybrid actions” aimed at sowing anxiety and discontent, said Finland’s Minister of European Affairs Anders Adlercreutz.

“It’s not really about trying to get a lot of people across the border,” Adlercreutz said in an interview Thursday. “It’s a proof of concept, making us aware that it views this kind of hybrid action as a tool that it can use, whenever it feels that it’s appropriate or needed.”

On Tuesday, Finland completely closed its border with Russia for two weeks amid growing accusations that Moscow was encouraging asylum seekers to travel across its frontier into the EU and NATO country.

Since then, Adlercreutz said, the “situation has calmed down,” with virtually no traffic at the border, which he called another indication that the actions were deliberate.

While Adlercreutz said the number of migrants itself was not large enough to overwhelm Finland’s resources — approximately 1,000 people in the past two weeks — he said there were “clear indications of it being systematic, organized,” including migrants arriving in groups, with similar equipment, and sharing stories about their crossing.

And as Finland gradually started closing border crossing points — before announcing the total closure — Adlercreutz said they noticed migrants quickly moving toward the open borders, which he said “indicates that … somebody has information about the decisions, our actions and they were already prepared to counteract them.”

Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported last week that Russian embassies have started issuing visas to people from the Horn of Africa to enter Russia and then continue their journey to the Finnish border with the help of the Kremlin’s security services. Moscow has repeatedly denied the claims.

While Adlercreutz did not confirm the report, he said some of the most common countries of origin included Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Tensions between Russia and Finland have escalated since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, prompting Finland to join the NATO military alliance.

The situation at the Finnish-Russian border recalls a similar crisis two years ago, when Poland accused the Belarusian government of sending people from the Middle East across its borders with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland as a way of exerting pressure on the EU.

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