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Niinistö: Border Arrivals May Be Russia’s Response to Defence Agreement With US

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Finnish President Sauli Niinistö suggested on Wednesday that the unusually large number of asylum seekers arriving at the eastern border may be part of a response by Moscow to Finland finalising a Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with the United States.

Niinistö made the comments as he started a two-day official visit to Germany.

The president said that Russia’s recent behaviour was similar to 2015-16, when it permitted hundreds of asylum seekers to reach Finnish border crossings in Lapland. Russia’s move was seen as a response to Finland’s increased Nato training activities.

Similarly, Russia does not appear to be preventing individuals from entering the border zone, but Niinistö noted that Finnish border legislation has changed since then.

Finland last year changed its border law so that authorities can halt asylum applications at certain crossing points if the country is targeted of a deliberate influx of asylum seekers orchestrated by another country.

The Southeast Finland Border Guard said on X (formerly Twitter) that as of 1:30 pm on Wednesday, 63 people had applied for asylum at the eastern border. On Monday there were 39 such arrivals, while there were 55 on Tuesday.

The agency has said most of the arrivals are from countries in the Middle East and Africa.

“Clear Finnish measures” needed

Niinistö noted that he has previously said that Finland must be prepared for a “certain malice” from Russia regarding Finland’s Nato membership.

“Yes, we are now constantly being reminded every day that Finland joined Nato. I think that this time, maybe it was the DCA that triggered the situation,” Niinistö told reporters in Bonn, Germany.

Niinistö said that Finland may face difficult situations at the eastern border, adding that stopping the stream of asylum seekers would require taking “very clear Finnish measures”.

The Finnish president said that he has discussed the situation with Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) and Interior Minister Mari Rantanen (Finns) several times. He added that he supports the preparations made by the government that would enable restricting traffic at the border.

“Yes, I now understand that it won’t end on its own,” Niinistö said.

Finland and the US began a final round of negotiations about the DCA at the end of last month.

On Tuesday, the Finnish president’s office noted that he had discussed the agreement with the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy (TP-UTVA).

According to the Finnish foreign ministry, the DCA aims “to clarify the framework for cooperation with an important ally and to allow the parties to deepen their cooperation in all security situations. In this way, the DCA will strengthen Finland’s security also as a member of Nato.”

Source: Yle

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