Wednesday February 21, 2024

EU supports Finland’s border closure measures

Published : 17 Nov 2023, 03:08

  DF Report
A van at the Nuijamaa, a border station between Russia and Finland in Lappeenranta, Finland, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. Photo: Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva via AP.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday expressed her support to the decision to close part of Finland's eastern border with Russia for the next three months against the backdrop of influx of the increasing number of asylum seekers.

Talking to Prime Minister Petteri Orpo over phone, she also termed Russia’s instrumentalisation of migrants as shameful, according to her post in social media platform X.

“I had a call with PM Petteri Orpo who informed me about the situation at the border with Russia. Russia’s instrumentalisation of migrants is shameful. I fully support the measures taken by Finland,” von der Leyen wrote in the post.

She also thanked the Finnish Border Guards for protecting the European borders.

Earlier, the Finnish Prime Minister in a post in X said that he has a telephone conversation with the EC President and discussed the issue.

“Thank you von der Leyen for good discussion and your support. Finland also protects the external border of the European Union,” Orpo wrote in his post.

According to government´s decision, the border crossing points of Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala will be closed starting on Saturday.

Jari Tanner of news agency Associated Press adds: Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on Wednesday linked Russia’s actions to Finland's NATO membership in April after decades of military non-alignment, a move that infuriated Moscow, which has threatened Helsinki with retaliatory measures several times.

He noted that Finland, which joined the Western military alliance in the wake of Moscow's attack on Ukraine in Feb. 2022, must be prepared for “certain malice” from Russia.

“Yes, we’re constantly being reminded (by Moscow) that Finland has joined NATO,” Niinistö told reporters during a visit to Germany.

Finland’s Foreign Ministry announced last month that the country of 5.6 million has concluded a deal on a new bilateral defense agreement with the United States. Among other things, the so called DCA pact allows Washington to send U.S. troops and to store equipment, weapons and ammunition in agreed locations in Finland.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday when asked about Finland considering the closure of the border crossings that Russian authorities “deeply regret that the leadership of Finland chose the path of deliberate distancing from the previously good nature of our bilateral relations.”