The political scientist explained how Helsinki uses the experience of Poland and the Baltic countries.
Finland is faced with an influx of illegal migrants from Russia. How is this border crisis evolving? Will Helsinki close its border crossings?
The Charter97.org website spoke about this with the director of the research program on Russia, the EU's Eastern Neighborhood and Eurasia at the Finnish Institute of International Relations, Arkady Moshes:
— If there is a need, then, of course, Finland will go for a complete closure. In fact, there is only one border point left to close, located quite far to the north. It is located 240 kilometers from Murmansk, so people can imagine where it is.
This point, if I’m not mistaken, is open for four hours: from 10 to 14. The length of the day in that part of the country is now two hours. That is, these are actually polar night conditions, not the most convenient border crossing.
Finland is now looking for legal justification in case it has to close this checkpoint too. I think that it will be found because other areas of legislation open up space for the authorities to act if the security of the country is under threat.
And everything that is happening now is interpreted precisely through the prism of national security. There is almost a consensus in the country that this crisis is man-made. And there is already enough evidence from the people themselves who found themselves on Finnish territory about who helped them and how.
Public opinion clearly perceives this as a problem artificially created by Moscow. There is also agreement in political circles that the border needs to be closed. Well, perhaps some representatives of left-wing parties emphasize that it is necessary to comply with international legislation. And I have no doubt that Finland's international obligations will be respected. That is, the opportunity, in principle, to apply for asylum will be preserved, but this will be possible not at the land border, but at Helsinki airport.
In general, at the moment I do not have the slightest doubt that if necessary, the border will be closed.
— As the Finnish TV channel Yle reported, some of the migrants who stormed the border were previously on the territory of Belarus and tried to get into the EU from Belarus. Is this an accident or is there some kind of coordination of actions on this issue between Putin and Lukashenka?
— Indeed, there are such cases. I saw this article in Yle. It contains the confession of one person, but I admit that there are more than one. I think that there is no, you know, some kind of master plan, like Putin and Lukashenka thought about how to bring people from Belarus.
This particular person (who is discussed in the article) said that he tried to cross the Polish and Lithuanian borders several times. He is one of those stubborn people who never want to admit defeat. He decided for himself to take a risk on the Finnish border. It is important to emphasize that disinformation plays a big role here, spreading through social networks in the circles of potential migrants located both near Finland and still in their own countries, Arab countries in the first place. In particular, the news was launched that the Finnish border was supposedly open and one could get there without any problems.
I think that rather the rule is some kind of “package tours” that are offered in Arab countries. Asylum seekers coming from Belarus are the exception rather than the rule.
— If the immigration crisis in Finland gains momentum, will this hit Lukashenka?
— Only indirectly. You see, parallels have already been drawn during discussions in the media, on social media. Let me emphasize that any discussion of the situation in Finland begins with drawing parallels with the crisis on the Belarusian border.
I say that there is an indirect influence, because, of course, the experience of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in terms of a firm response to the emigration crisis that began in 2021 was certainly taken into account and, at least behind the scenes, is considered successful. The crisis on the Belarusian border was greater than on the Finnish border today, but it is clear that it was the position of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, which boiled down to the fact that the border needed to be closed and protected, that was considered correct.
But this cannot directly affect the attitude towards the Lukashenka regime, because this attitude is already so negative that it cannot get worse.