25 Jan 2024 17:22

Finnish authorities report resumption of illegal border crossings from Russia

HELSINKI. Jan 25 (Interfax) - Citizens of third countries are once again illegally crossing the Finnish border from Russia, the Finnish authorities said.

Border guards detained 18 people "suspected of committing a crime at the state border" north of the Imatra checkpoint on January 25, Yle said on Thursday, citing the Southeast Finland Border Guard.

The detainees - men, women and children - crossed the border on foot through a forest, it said.

According to preliminary information, they are asylum seekers from the Middle East.

The Southeast Finland Border Guard detained border trespassers most recently on January 11. They were 11 asylum seekers from Iran.

According to Yle, the Finnish Border Guard is investigating 25 offenses "related to the organization of illegal crossings of the eastern border by asylum seekers."

Over 1,300 asylum seekers from third countries have arrived in Finland from Russia since the beginning of August 2023.

The Finnish authorities view the arrival of asylum seekers at the border as a Russian "hybrid operation" aimed at "undermining the stability, decision-making capacity, and internal unity of the state." The Finnish government has therefore resorted to temporary shutdowns of pedestrian checkpoints. Such checkpoints were most recently closed between January 11 and February 11.