Russia is sending asylum seekers to Finland, creating a migrant crisis on the border, Finnish authorities say.
Finland has already closed several border checkpoints and is considering shutting down its entire Russian border.
Russia and Belarus previously employed this tactic to another NATO neighbor, Poland, in 2021.
Russia is creating a migrant crisis at Finland's borders, apparently sending hundreds of asylum seekers to the country.
The incident, now several days in, isn't the first time Russia has directed migrants to enter other countries — in fact, it appears to be the latest of a tactic to inspire unrest at its NATO neighbors' borders.
Over the past two weeks, Finland clocked over 500 asylum seekers, mostly from Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and Iraq, a major spike compared to numbers earlier this year. The sudden influx forced Finland to close multiple border checkpoints on its southeastern border with Russia on November 18 and led them to blame against Russia for creating the crisis. Russia has denied accusations, and last week, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said Finland closing some of its borders with Russia was "a big mistake."
Videos supposedly of migrants traveling to the border have surfaced online. One such video, shared by open-source intelligence accounts on X, formerly known as Twitter, apparently shows dozens of migrants headed to Russia's border with Finland.
Finnish authorities are now considering closing the entire border with Russia, Finnish media outlet Iltalehti reported.
—Emil Kastehelmi (@emilkastehelmi) November 19, 2023
Business Insider was not able to independently verify the video.
Finland has blamed Russia for artificially creating the migrant crisis, with Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo saying last week that Russian border guards were escorting migrants to the border themselves. Finnish authorities have also accused Russian guards of closing their border after transporting migrants to Finland, and have suggested "foreign authorities or other actors" are involved in the crisis. There are also videos and photos of migrants riding bikes supposedly given by Russian authorities.
While the Kremlin has denied accusations that it's involved in the migrant crisis and condemned its border closures, the incident could fall in line with previous Russian tactics for trying to cause instability at its borders with NATO neighbors.
According to The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington DC-based think tank, "Russia's apparent hybrid warfare tactic on the Russian-Finnish border is similar to Russia's and Belarus' creation of a migrant crisis on the Polish border in 2021 and is likely similarly aimed at destabilizing NATO." At that time, Belarus, possibly enabled by Russia, sent thousands of migrants to its border with Poland, as well as Lithuania and Latvia, in retaliation against the European Union, which Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko threatened to "flood" with "drugs and migrants." Human Rights Watch accused Belarus of manufacturing the crisis and reported on violence and inhumane treatment of migrants by Belarusian authorities, all of which created unrest at Poland's border.
It's possible that what's unfolding at Finland's border is similar, with Russia looking to negatively impact Finland after it joined NATO earlier this year.
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