Norway considers full border closure with Russia amid events in Finland

Norway is contemplating the closure of its sole checkpoint with Russia in response to the worsening migration situation at the Finnish-Russian border

Prime Minister of Norway Jonas Gahr Støre
Prime Minister of Norway Jonas Gahr Støre / Arbeiderpartiet CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED

Norway is considering the possibility of closing its only border control point (BCP) with Russia. This statement was made by Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre in response to a question about whether the country will follow Finland's example, which closed most of its border points with Russia.

Støre clarified that such a step would be taken if necessary, and emphasized that Norway is closely monitoring the situation in Finland and Estonia.

The Norway-Russia border near Kirkenes
The Norway-Russia border near Kirkenes / Maltesen CC BY 2.0 DEED

The "Storskog" checkpoint is the only vehicular crossing point on the border between Russia and Norway. Currently, there is no information about an increase in the number of people crossing the border from Russia through this checkpoint.

Finland has also decided to close most of its border control points with Russia, leaving only the Raja-Jooseppi checkpoint open. According to Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, the reason for this decision is the increase in the number of illegal migrants arriving from Russia to Finland.

Prime Minister of Finland Petteri Orpo
Prime Minister of Finland Petteri Orpo / FinnishGovernment CC BY 2.0 DEED

Finland accuses Russia of deliberately sending undocumented refugees across the border and in response is closing several border crossings. The Kremlin denies these allegations. Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen stated that the government is prepared to completely close the border with Russia if necessary.

Valtonen reported that Finland has evidence that Russian authorities are transporting refugees to the Finnish-Russian border. The Foreign Minister demands that Russia stop sending people to the border. Among them, as specified in the message from the Finnish Foreigners Affairs Department, are citizens of Yemen, Afghanistan, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria.

Finnish authorities previously speculated that Russia might be directing a flow of refugees into the country as retaliation for Finland's recent entry into NATO. Russian authorities deny these claims and criticize the border closure.

In light of these events, Estonia is also considering the possibility of closing its border with Russia. The head of the Estonian Border Guard Service, Veiko Kommusaar, expressed concerns that migrants previously gathering at Finnish borders may now head towards Estonian border crossings.

Additionally, on the evening of November 17, about 30 people, including pedestrians and cyclists, approached the Finnish border checkpoint Niirala at the border with Russia. They attempted to cross into Finland but were stopped by Finnish border guards. During the incident, one person attempted to flee but was detained, and tear gas was used by the border guards. After the situation was resolved, the injured received medical attention and were taken to the border point for further investigation. It is being determined whether they are asylum seekers.

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo announced plans to close several border points, including Niirala, in light of increased attempts to cross the border on bicycles, previously used by illegal migrants. Authorities are also discussing the possibility of completely closing the border with Russia and are preparing the relevant legislative project.

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