Raja-Jooseppi closes

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - November 28, 2023
No more traffic at Raja-Jooseppi, the checkpoint on the road from Ivalo to Murmansk. Photo: Saara-Maria Salonen

Raja-Jooseppi in Finnish Lapland was the last open border crossing to Russia. Despite few migrants in recent days, and zero on Tuesday, the government in Helsinki takes no chances and points to “threat to public order and national security”.

The closure was announced at a press conference by Prime Minister Petteri Orpo and Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen in the afternoon on November 28.

“We don’t accept any attempts to undermine our national security, Orpo said.

Wednesday, November 29, will be last open day at Raja-Jooseppi, the northernmost of Finland’s eight border checkpoints along the land border with Russia, the Finnish Border Guard informs.

“The decision is valid until 13 December 2023,” Rantanen added.

press release from the Government elaborates:

“Based on the observations made by the Border Guard and other authorities and the information received, it is clear that the authorities of a foreign country and other actors play a role in facilitating the arrival of persons who have crossed the border to Finland. The phenomenon is also related to international crime.”

Finland says Russia is using migrants as a hybrid operation.

“…. threat of its further expansion pose a serious threat to national security and public order in Finland and elsewhere in the Schengen area.” the Government states.

Russia’s FSB border service has assisted the migrants to get to the border with Finland.


The announcement came at a press conference in Helsinki. Screenshot from live broadcast.
  • More than 900 migrants have entered Finland from Russia since August and asked for asylum.
  • Finland closed four checkpoints in the south on November 18.
  • On November 22, three more checkpoints were closed including Salla in Lapland.
  • From November 24, only Raja-Jooseppi in Inari is open.
  • Finland’s Prime minister Petteri Orpo says the migration wave is organized by Russian authorities.
  • Norway’s border crossing to the Murmansk region, at Storskog, has so far not seen any migrants this November asking for asylum. The Norwegian government has said the border can be closed in short notice if migrant troubles escalate.
The Finnish-Russian border is closed. Photo: Atle Staalesen

With no ways to cross the 1,340 km land border in the two-weeks period ahead, the nearest travel option for people between Finland and Russia will either be to go north via Norway (Storskog) or south to Estonia (Narva).

Located in Kirkenes, Norway, just a few kilometres from the borders to Russia and Finland, the Barents Observer is dedicated to cross-border journalism in Scandinavia, Russia and the wider Arctic.

As a non-profit stock company that is fully owned by its reporters, its editorial decisions are free of regional, national or private-sector influence. It has been a partner to ABJ and its predecessors since 2016.

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