Von der Leyen promises Finland EU help to counter migrants from Russia

    The European Union will help Finland guard its eastern border from neighbouring Russia with monetary aid as well as Frontex manpower and surveillance hardware.

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    The European Union will help Finland guard its eastern border from neighbouring Russia’s attempt to “instrumentalise migrants” to destabilise it, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday.

    Finland last year shut all passenger crossing points on its long border with Russia amid an influx of asylum-seekers from countries including Syria and Somalia, and accused Moscow of weaponising migration, an assertion the Kremlin denies.

    The border closure has put an end to the flow of migrants but Finland is building a fence on parts of the border and has stepped up patrols, fearing the phenomenon could restart any time.

    On a visit to the Finnish-Russian border area, von der Leyen reminded a similar “hybrid attack” had been launched by Belarus in November 2021 against Latvia, Poland and Lithuania.

    “… We all know how Putin and his allies instrumentalise migrants to test our defences and try to destabilise us. Now, Putin is focusing on Finland,” she told reporters.

    “This is no doubt in response to your firm support of Ukraine and your accession to NATO,” she added.

    The border between Russia and Finland is easy to cross in the summer, with only a formal barbed wire fence in between. | Raja

    Fresh legislation on its way

    Finland’s government is planning to introduce emergency legislation to allow its border guards to block migrants and send them back to Russia without receiving their asylum applications, should Russia allow them to start crossing through the vast forests that cover the 1,340-km (830-mile) long border.

    “We are preparing our own legislation but we also need EU measures,” Finland’s Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said.

    Von der Leyen promised the EU would support Finland with 230 million euros ($245 million) and operational help from the bloc’s Frontex border agency to counter the problem, by deploying border guards and surveillance equipment to Finland.

    She said the Commission was also working with the countries of origin of migrants to counter the problem.

    “What we see is that a state is instrumentalising poor people to put pressure on another state so that is a clear security issue,” she said.

    Measures taken to deal with migrants from Russia must strike a balance between protecting the security of borders and international obligations, she said.


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