Russia vows action against Finland's border closure move
20 Nov 2023, 11:54
DF News Desk
A senior official from the Russian Foreign Ministry has pledged that Russia will take counter measures following Finland´s move to close four border crossing points at eastern border, reported Xinhua, quoting local media on Monday.
The official termed the possible counter measures as “retaliation against any anti-Russian measures taken by Finland.”
"Taking into account the confrontational actions of Finland towards Russia, the Russian side decided to terminate the Russian-Finnish intergovernmental agreement on promoting cross-border cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Finland, signed in Helsinki on April 13, 2012," said Sergei Belyaev, director of the Second European Department at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding "we place the blame for this entirely on the Finnish side."
Belyaev highlighted Finland's “consistent confrontational stance” against Russia following Russia's military operation in Ukraine, including supplying arms to Ukraine and escalating sanctions against Russia.
He emphasized that Finland's NATO membership resulted in the halt of longstanding bilateral political dialogues at various levels, causing severe harm to previously flourishing trade and economic ties. Moreover, connections between regions and sister cities were severed.
Belyaev said that Finland imposed entry restrictions on Russian citizens in September 2022, which impedes travel of many groups including property owners and employees of Finnish companies. These restrictions were further tightened from July 10 onwards.
Regarding Finland's plans to introduce property seizure mechanisms affecting Russian nationals, Belyaev said that these plans are still in development. Moscow hopes that these projects, “which violate private property rights,” will not come into effect.
"Under the current Russophobic stance of Finnish authorities, various scenarios are unfortunately possible. Any anti-Russian actions will undoubtedly receive a response. Our reaction will hinge on the specific decisions made in Helsinki, especially concerning the expropriation of Russian property," stated Belyaev.
In October, Finland's Minister of Justice, Leena Meri, revealed plans to reform legislation by 2027, enabling property confiscation from owners with whom contact is impossible or who have payment arrears.
Many Russian property owners in Finland are unable to pay their expenses and taxes due to the European Union's banking and payment sanctions on Russia following its military operation in Ukraine.
Finland further tightened entry restrictions for Russian property owners in early July. Reports from Finnish media highlighted the difficulties in conducting bank transfers from Russia to Finnish banks, affecting tax payments and property-related bills.
Finland closed border crossing points at Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala of eastern border from midnight of November 18 for the next three months against the backdrop of influx of asylum seekers from Russia during the recent period.
Now border crossing points with Russia remain open at Vartius, Kuusamo, Salla and Raja-Jooseppi.
The government on November 15 at a meeting decided that measures to ensure border security following the rapid increase in illegal entry at the eastern border will be taken on Thursday.
Earlier on November 14, the Ministry of the Interior said, the government may decide to restrict cross-border traffic or to close border crossing points at eastern border with Russia against the backdrop of the influx of increasing number of asylum seekers.