Finland announced on Thursday the extension of the closure of its border crossing points with Russia until April 14, 2024, citing concerns over weaponized migration and threats to national security from Russia. The decision comes after the initial closure, which was scheduled to end on February 11, was extended once again.The decision, approved by the State Council, entails the closure of border crossing points at Imatra, Kuusamo, Niirala, Nuijamaa, Raja-Joosepi, Salla, Vaalimaa, and Vartius on the land borders between Finland and Russia. Additionally, the centralized application for international protection has been implemented at air and water transport border crossing points as stipulated by the government decree.The most recent extension comes amid observations from border authorities that weaponized migration could resume if crossings reopen. Finland alleged irregular movements have occurred under the influence of a foreign state, believed to be Russia.Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said that with no signs of Russia changing its behavior, the security situation remains unchanged, and authorities estimate that thousands of migrants continue to wait at the Russian border seeking asylum in Finland.The lengthy closure has sparked a response from Russia. Spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zaharova criticized Finland’s “politicized attitude” toward the border and disregard of bilateral discussions between border forces. Zaharova accused Helsinki of “stubbornly refusing” to address alleged threats from Russia and avoiding direct contact between authorities that could solve the “unhealthy situation.” She warned the closures violate Finland’s international cooperation obligations.

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