EU to deploy more guards to bolster Finland’s border control efforts

EU border agency Frontex said Thursday it plans to deploy 50 border guard officers and other staff, along with equipment such as patrol cars, to bolster Finland’s border control activities amid accusations that Russia is stoking an immigrant influx on its eastern border.

The EU move follows the Finnish government’s decision to close all eastern border crossing points with Russia except Raja-Jooseppi from Friday night until December 23. The Finnish tabloid newspaper Iltalehti fd-419e-bbf9-b5f1068794ae" target="_blank" rel="noopener">reported the situation on the eastern border has not improved and that there are signs that the crisis could escalate further, citing Prime Minister Petteri Orpo.

“This significant reinforcement is expected to be on the ground as soon as next week,” Frontex said in a statement. Frontex currently has 10 officers on the Finnish borders.

“Frontex’s support to Finland goes beyond logistics; it’s a demonstration of the European Union’s unified stand against hybrid challenges affecting one of its members,” Frontex Executive Director Hans Leijtens said in the statement.

The Russian foreign ministry earlier this week called Helsinki’s decision to close a number of checkpoints on the border with Russia “unequivocally provocative.”

“The decision was made hastily, without any consultations with the Russian side, which had previously been an integral part of cooperation in ensuring the effective functioning of the joint border,” the ministry said in a statement.

Late last week, the Finnish Border Guard said a total of 415 persons with inadequate travel documents had arrived in the southeast Finland Border Guard District and applied for asylum from November 1-17.

“Based on observations made and information obtained by the Finnish Border Guard and other authorities, there are clear indications that authorities of a foreign state or other operators have furthered the entry of those persons who illegally crossed the border into Finland,” the border agency said in a statement.

Tensions between the two countries have become increasingly strained since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, prompting Finland’s bid to join the NATO military alliance amid security concerns.