Finland says EU should help end migrant influx from Russia

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[April 19, 2024]  HELSINKI (Reuters) -The European Union should take measures to help Finland put a stop to an influx of migrants via Russia, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said on Friday. 

Finland last year shut its long border with Russia amid a growing number of arrivals from countries including Syria and Somalia, and accused Moscow of weaponizing migration against the Nordic nation and the EU, an assertion the Kremlin denies.

Finland's Prime Minister Petteri Orpo holds a press conference together with the Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (not pictured) and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (not pictured) in Stockholm, Sweden, January 19, 2024. TT News Agency/Henrik Montgomery via REUTERS/File Photo

"We are preparing our own legislation but we also need EU measures," Orpo said, without elaborating, after visiting the Nordic country's border with Russia together with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Von der Leyen told the same press conference that the EU Commission is working closely with the countries of origin of the migrants, agreeing with Finland's position.

"What we see is that a state is instrumentalizing poor people to put pressure on another state so that is a clear security issue," she said.

Measures taken to deal with migrants from Russia must strike a balance between protecting the security of borders and international obligations, she said.

Following an example set by Poland and Lithuania on their borders with Belarus, the Finnish government is drafting legislation that would allow border guards to block asylum seekers entering the country from Russia.

(Reporting by Essi Lehto and Anna Ringstrom, editing by Terje Solsvik and Philippa Fletcher)

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