Russia likely using 'artificial' migration crisis as tool to destabilize West amid power struggle, says Finnis

Sauli Niinistö
Sauli Niinistö

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö believes that an artificial migration crisis at the Finnish-Russian border organized by Russia is part of a "broader picture" and a way for the Kremlin to destabilize the West, the local outlet Yle reported on Dec. 2.

"There are rather interesting broader factors involved," Niinistö said.

Read also: Sweden backs Finland in securing EU’s external border to combat illegal migration from Russia

Other countries, such as Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, have also been the targets of similar hybrid operations by Russia in the past, the head of state said.

Russia's actions against Finland "are not isolated from everything else," Niinistö said.

"Russia is waging a propaganda war that aims to create chaos in the West," the Finnish leader said.

It is also about "great-power politics" and the struggle for power, part of which is Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, according to the Finnish politician.

Read also: Finland responds to Russian hybrid attack using migrants — complete border shutdown for two weeks

At the same time, Russia's desire to divide the West only strengthens it, Niinistö said.

"The artificial migration movement is a cause for concern not only in Finland but also at the European level, and this could be an incentive to further support Ukraine," he said.

Finland announced the closure of four border-crossing points in the east along the border with Russia on Nov. 6. The restrictions will be in effect until Feb. 18, 2024, but may be extended if necessary.

Norway could support the Finnish government's decision and also close its border crossing with Russia, Norwegian Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl said earlier. Estonia made the same statement a day later.

Several more Finnish-Russian border crossing points were closed on Nov. 22, leaving only one open.

Read also: Norway may follow Finland by closing border with Russia, says PM, Estonia may follow suit

The entire border with Russia could be closed if necessary, Finnish Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said on Nov. 24.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo and Interior Minister Rantanen announced the closure of the last checkpoint operating on the border with Russia on Nov. 28.

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