Finland gets more EU staff to handle Russia border crisis

By Anna Ringstrom and Essi Lehto

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex said on Thursday it will send more officers to Finland next week as the Nordic nation seeks to limit the number of asylum seekers coming via Russia.

Helsinki has accused Moscow of funnelling some 700 migrants to the border in the last two weeks from nations such as Yemen, Afghanistan, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria, a charge the Kremlin has denied.

Finland on Wednesday said it will close all but the northernmost crossing point on its 1,340 km (830 miles) border with Russia, leaving open only a remote Arctic route from Friday morning onwards.

The measures will initially be in place for one month.

Frontex in a statement said it would deploy 50 border guard officers and other staff to Finland along with equipment such as patrol cars, to bolster control activities.

Finland’s Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said her country would ramp up registering of those who arrive, establishing centres for the collection of photos, fingerprints and other identity information.

“This is done for security reasons because we don’t know who will cross the border,” Rantanen said in a post on X.

Finland earlier this week said it had asked for 60 Frontex officers on top of 10 already stationed in the country.

Frontex said it would send a first group of staff on Nov. 29, including border surveillance officers, support for registering migrants, document experts and interpreters.

The fundamental rights “of all people” will be respected and upheld, Frontex said.

“The agency is acutely aware of the humanitarian aspect of this scenario, especially considering the harsh weather conditions and the unpreparedness of the people arriving at the Finnish border,” it added.

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm and Essi Lehto in Helsinki, editing by Terje Solsvik and Christina Fincher)