Finland to boost Russian border security with amended law
HELSINKI– Finland’s parliament on Thursday passed amended border security legislation that allows crossings with Russia to be closed, amid fears Moscow may choose to send large numbers of migrants across the border.
The lawmakers’ decision came just two days after NATO’s 30 members signed formal membership protocols for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance – an outcome that angered Russia. The membership applications of the two Nordic nations were approved at a NATO summit in late June in Madrid.
Amendments approved by Finnish lawmakers will give the centre-left government led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin broader powers to restrict border traffic in exceptional situations, particularly on the 1,340-kilometre (830-mile) border with the Russia, the longest of all members of the European Union. .
The changes would also allow Finland, a nation of 5.5 million people, to build barriers and fences along the border with Russia if necessary. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is due to sign the amendments to the law on Friday.
The law reform was prompted by the government’s fear that Russia was trying to influence Finland by organizing large numbers of asylum seekers at the border – which happened at northern Finland border crossings in 2015 and 2016 when Russian authorities reportedly brought in thousands of asylum seekers. the.
The risk of such hybrid threats from Moscow is considered particularly high now that Finland has become an observer member of NATO, but not yet a full member enjoying the alliance’s security guarantees, pending legislative approvals in the 30 Member States.
Russia has repeatedly stated in recent years that it is against Helsinki and Stockholm joining NATO. But Finland and Sweden decided to apply for alliance membership after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
“The security situation in Finland and Europe has fundamentally changed in recent months, and above all the risk of another type of hybrid influence has increased,” Finland’s Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson said in a statement. .
“I am pleased that a new exception covering hybrid threats in particular has been added to the Preparedness Act so quickly with the broad support of Parliament,” she said.
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