Kremlin regrets Finland’s border closure, citing anti-Russian stance

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Dmitry Peskov

21st November 2023 – (Moscow) The Kremlin expressed deep regret on Monday over Finland’s decision to close border crossings with Russia, stating that it reflects Helsinki’s adoption of an anti-Russian position. Finland, a member of the European Union and, as of this year, the NATO military alliance, shut down four busy crossings on its border with Russia in an effort to stem the flow of asylum seekers it believes was orchestrated by Moscow.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, addressing reporters during a regular news briefing, once again denied Finland’s claims that Russia intentionally directed illegal migrants towards the border. Peskov asserted that Russian border guards were fulfilling their duties in accordance with established regulations.

Regarding the closure of the four crossings, Peskov expressed disappointment, stating, “This causes nothing but deep regret because we had long-standing, very good relations with Finland, based on mutual respect and pragmatism. We regret that these relations have been replaced by an exclusively Russophobic position adopted by the leaders of this country.”

Russia’s foreign ministry lodged a formal protest with the Finnish ambassador to Moscow, contending that the closure of the border crossings violated the rights and interests of tens of thousands of people in both countries. In a statement, the ministry criticized the hasty decision, noting that it was made without any consultations with the Russian side.

The border between Finland and Russia stretches for 1,340 kilometres (830 miles) and also serves as the external border of the European Union. Helsinki has accused Russian authorities of directing migrants to the crossings in retaliation for Finland’s decision to enhance defence cooperation with the United States—a claim dismissed by the Kremlin.

Finland’s move to join the NATO military alliance in April, following Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, which it refers to as a “special military operation,” further strained relations between Helsinki and Moscow.