As Helsinki prepares new measures against Russian hybrid operations, President Stubb makes visit to the border

By - March 27, 2024 The Independent Barents Observer
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Together with his wife, President Alexander Stubb on Wednesday arrived at Niirala checkpoint where he met with representatives of the Finnish Border Guard.

Captain of the border guard station Mikko Sorasalmi gave the president an introduction to equipment applied by the border patrols. On site were also representatives of the EU border agency Frontex and the discussion took place in Finnish, English and German, Yle reports.

The Niirala border-crossing point used to be site buzzing with travellers, but since mid-December the border between Finland and Russia has been closed and travellers forced to use checkpoints in the Baltic states or northern Norway.

The closure came after several thousands of migrants flocked from Russia and into the Schengen zone through the Finnish border-crossing points. Finnish authorities are confident that the migrant flows were orchestrated by Moscow as part of a hybrid influence operation.

 

Russian authorities in late fall 2023 sent buses of migrants from border crossing point of Salla towards Raja-Jooseppi, the last remaining crossing point between the two countries. Finland soon afterwards closed all its border-crossing points to Russia. Screenshot of video posted on Governor Andrei Chibis Telegram channel

 

This week’s visit of Alexander Stubb comes as Finland is preparing new measures to counter Russian hybrid influence on the country. Last week, the government completed a draft law that is aimed at preventing asylum seekers from entering the country.

The bill aims at preventing asylum seekers from entering the country. The acceptance of asylum applications would be significantly limited. 

 

Migrants at the Salla checkpoint in November 2023. Photo: Finnish Border Guard

 

The bill is balancing between national security concerns and international human rights consideration, representatives of the government admit.

Advisor Sanna Palo from the Border Guard Department of the Ministry of the Interior in a press conference on Friday underlined that it is “legally exceptionally challenging and tense in terms of basic and human rights,” Helsingin Sanomat reports.

“We have to weigh up national security, border security, international agreements and human rights,” said Prime Minister Petter Orpo.

To be adopted, the new legislation will require a five-sixths majority in the parliament. 

According to PM Orpo, the law is needed because Finland has been the target of “instrumentalized immigration” from Russia. Authorities in Moscow have organized flows of asylum seekers on Finland’s eastern border since last fall, the prime minister argues.

It is aimed at influencing Finland’s national security and public order, the government leader underlines.

“We have to prepare for the fact that the situation may get more difficult when spring arrives,” he said in last Friday’s press conference.

“The authorities need tools to manage the terrain border.”