Three asylum seekers walked the wilderness out of Russia

It's the second such crossing this summer.

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - August 18, 2022
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Norwegian border guard soldiers stand near the border with Russia, which lies in the background. (Thomas Nilsen / The Independent Barents Observer)

For the second time this summer, people have crossed the Arctic border between Norway and Russia seeking asylum.

“The persons were detained by the border guards and handed over to the police. All three have asked for asylum and we can’t give further details,”  Tarjei Sirma Tellefsen, chief of staff with the police in Finnmark, told the Barents Observer.

Sør-Varanger Avis  first reported this week’s illegal border crossings.

The three foreigners were detained at Korpfjell. The exact circumstances are still to be determined, and the police are formally still investigating it as “a possible illegal crossing,” Tellefsen says.

In late June, a person came walking in the same northern sector of the 198 kilometer border. He also applied for asylum in Norway.

It is strictly illegal to cross the border in the countryside, and such incidents have happened only a few times over the last three decades. Norway’s border with Russia is likely the least troubled among all external Schengen borders in Europe.

“Threat assessment in regards to illegal border crossings is low, and the fact that we have seen two incidents this summer doesn’t change the overall picture,” Tellefsen says.

Norway has military border guards patrolling the land border with Russia, but the police are formally in charge of law enforcement.

On the Russian side, a barbed wired fence stretches the entire area of a highly secured and surveilled border zone.

There are several military camps in the Pechenga region, with the nearest only 10-12 kilometers from the border with Norway.

Both the 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade and the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade are located in Pechenga. Soldiers from these brigades are currently fighting Russia’s war in Ukraine.