Signs at the border-crossing point in Vaalimaa, Virolahti, on 25 October 2023. The Finnish Border Guard reported that 74 asylum seekers crossed the border from Russia to Finland by 6pm on Wednesday. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)


THE NUMBER of asylum applicants has continued to creep up at border-crossing points along the eastern border of Finland.

The Finnish Border Guard has reported that a total of 74 asylum applicants had crossed the border from Russia to Finland by 6pm on Wednesday, with traffic busy particularly at the border-crossing point in Vaalimaa.

The daily number of arrivals was 39 on Monday and 55 on Tuesday.

“It looks like the number is growing and will continue growing,” Jukka Lukkari, a deputy commander at the Southeast Finland Border Guard District, analysed for YLE on Wednesday.

STT on Wednesday wrote about an asylum seeker who said he was offered help getting to the border by police in Russia. The man stated to the news agency that he was transported by an army vehicle to a makeshift police station between the border and Vyborg, a town in western Russia. He then took a taxi to the border, as instructed at the police station, and crossed the border on a bicycle.

In recent days, an unusually high number of asylum seekers have arrived at the eastern border of Finland. The total number of arrivals this week, 147, accounts for more than half of the 234 asylum seekers that have arrived at the border since the last day of July, highlighted YLE.

“We’ve prepared for this. The Border Guard exists so that we can manage disruptions in border security. It seems that we’re faced with one right now,” commented Lukkari.

Helsingin Sanomat reported yesterday that the government intends to shut down border-crossing points to safeguard national security as soon as today. Information obtained by the daily newspaper from several independent sources also suggests that the government has drawn the conclusion that the situation is exacerbating based not on the increase in arrivals but on intelligence.

The government was scheduled to announce tougher border controls yesterday but it re-scheduled its plenary session until 1pm on Thursday. Similarly postponed was a press conference that was to be held by Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen (PS).

Sources told Helsingin Sanomat that the government has decided to devise tougher control measures than it initially intended due to the deterioration of the situation.

Rantanen stated to YLE on Tuesday that Finland can in some circumstances close its entire border, arguing that national sovereignty takes precedence over international obligations.

“The thing is that ultimately, in a situation where it’s necessary, Finland could shut down the entire border. No international treaty is a suicide pact,” she commented, referring to international treaties concerning the right to international protection.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT