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Finland closes other border points with Russia

Finland closes other border points with Russia

Russia must stop sending illegal immigrants to its border with Finland, an act being used as a weapon in "hybrid warfare", Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said on Friday, as the Nordic country closed other border crossings, leaving only one like this.

More than 800 migrants from countries such as Afghanistan, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen have entered Finland through Russia in recent weeks, according to the Finnish Border Guard.

Helsinki says Moscow is sending them to the border in retaliation for its decision to increase defense cooperation with the United States, a charge the Kremlin denies. Finland angered Russia earlier this year when it joined NATO because of the war in Ukraine.

"We want to send a clear message to Russia: this must stop," Mr Orpo told a news conference.

"What is happening is not about asylum seekers, it is about hybrid attack and national security," he said.

After closing four border crossings last week, Finland closed three more overnight, leaving only the northernmost border crossing, Raja-Jooseppi, located in the Arctic region, open.

The border crossing remained open for four hours Friday, the Border Patrol said.

However, the Anti-Discrimination Ombudsman said the remote location of this border point raises concerns that Helsinki is jeopardizing the right to seek asylum.

The Finnish Border Guard expects dozens of officers from the European Union's border agency Frontex to help patrol the 1,340-kilometer border with Russia starting next week.

"Their main task will be patrolling the land border under the supervision of the Finnish Border Guard and supporting the latter," border security expert Arttu Maaranen told the Reuters news agency.

There are currently 9 Frontex border officers in Finland. The agency said Thursday it will send 50 more border officers and other personnel to Finland, as well as patrol vehicles to bolster security.

Norway has not faced "irregularities" on its border with Russia, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said on Friday while visiting the Estonian capital, Tallinn.

He said that Norway would be ready to take the necessary steps for border security if the situation were to change.

Estonia and Latvia, like Finland, have accused Moscow of sending migrants to their borders with Russia in what the three countries have described as weapons in "hybrid warfare"./ VOA

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