Finland says thousands of migrants seek to enter via Russia

By Thomson Reuters Feb 20, 2024 | 6:35 AM

By Essi Lehto

HELSINKI (Reuters) -Finland has information showing that thousands of third-country migrants in Russia are waiting to cross the border to the Nordic country, Finnish Interior Minister Mari Rantanen told a press conference on Tuesday.

Finland closed its eastern border with Russia late last year amid a growing number of arrivals without valid documents to enter the European union. It accuses Moscow of funnelling migrants to the border, a claim the Kremlin has denied.

“We have information that thousands of people on the Russian side are waiting to get to Finland,” Rantanen said. This represented “a threat to society”, she added.

Rantanen declined to elaborate on how Finnish authorities had obtained the information.

The Finnish Interior Ministry on Monday said it would swiftly draft legislation to strengthen border security and combat attempts my Moscow to put pressure on Finland in the form of instrumentalised migration.

The government will present its proposal to parliament next month, it added.

Over 1,300 asylum seekers from nations such as Yemen, Somalia and Syria came to Finland from Russia between August and December last year, according to the Finnish border authority.

Finland’s immigration authority in January told Reuters that it had not been able to locate some 160 of the migrants and that they had likely continued to another European country.

(Reporting by Essi Lehto, editing by Terje Solsvik)