Norway is considering the move as Finland accuses Russia of exacerbating the migrant crisis
Norway could close its border crossing with Russia, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store has said, according to TV2. This comes amid worsening relations between the Scandinavian states and Russia, with Finland set to close all but one border crossing with its eastern neighbor.
Norway’s Storskog checkpoint is the only one in its roughly 200km border with Russia. Store, speaking to the press on Wednesday, said Oslo would close the crossing “if necessary.”
This comes after Helsinki closed every border crossing with Russia apart from the northernmost Raja-Jooseppi checkpoint. The checkpoints in Kuusamo, Salla, and Vartius will be closed as of midnight Friday, November 24, following the closure of four others last week. This was due to an alleged increase in the number of migrants – mostly from the Middle East and Africa – attempting to cross into Finland from Russia.
Helsinki’s defense minister, Antti Hakkanen, accused Russia of attempting to “accelerate the migrant crisis in Europe and destabilize its unity,” a claim which Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed as “completely baseless.”
Last week, Norway’s minister of justice, Emilie Enger Mehl, told the Norwegian news agency NTB that “it may be appropriate for us to close the border at short notice if necessary.” She went on to say that traffic at Norway’s Storskog checkpoint was low, and has been low throughout the autumn.
Hundreds of Finnish citizens, many of whom have relatives living in Russia, protested the closing of the checkpoints, Finnish outlet Yle said. One of protesters said, “we have the right to family ties. It is very cruel to make such a decision before Christmas.”
Finland, NATO’s newest member, joined in April. Its membership was originally set to be decided in a referendum by President Sauli Niinisto. However, the government went ahead with the decision anyway, citing opinion polls.
Zakharova said on Telegram that “when the time came for action, they didn’t ask the public, and did exactly what Washington told them… or did I miss something, and the referendum on Finland joining NATO happened after all?”
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