Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen (PS) reacted at a news conference concerning travel restrictions at the border between Finland and Russia in Helsinki on Thursday, 11 January 2024. Rantanen said all border-crossing points on the border will remain closed until 11 February. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)

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THE GOVERNMENT of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) on Thursday decided to extend the closure of border-crossing points on the border between Finland and Russia until 11 February 2024.

“Based on information gathered by the authorities, it is very likely that Russia’s hybrid influence activities will resume and expand as we saw earlier. We therefore consider it necessary to keep the eastern border closed,” stated Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen (PS).

The information suggests that migrants are continuing to wait for the border to re-open in nearby areas, according to the government.

The previous decision on the border situation would have expired and all border-crossing points would have re-opened on 14 January 2024.

The government said last week it will regularly assess the content and scope of the border closure in co-operation with public authorities as the situation develops. The closure will be lifted or amended if it is determined that it is no longer necessary to protect against a “serious threat” to national security or public order.

Russian authorities allowed third-party migrants without the necessary travel documents to enter into the border zone between Finland and Russia between September and December. Of the people who crossed the border into Finland, 1,323 people applied for asylum, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Uutissuomalainen on Thursday reported that more than 120 of the asylum seekers have been registered as missing by reception centres.

Antti Lehtinen, the director of the asylum unit at the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri), stated to the news outlet that the migrants who have vanished have possibly continued their journey from Finland to other parts of the EU.

Most of them, he added, were Syrian nationals.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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