EU Chief Warns Putin Using Migrants to Destabilize Finland After NATO Entry

European Commission President warns Russia is using illegal migrants to destabilize Finland, a new NATO member, as part of a broader strategy to undermine European security.

Olalekan Adigun
Updated On
New Update
EU Chief Warns Putin Using Migrants to Destabilize Finland After NATO Entry

EU Chief Warns Putin Using Migrants to Destabilize Finland After NATO Entry

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin is sending illegal migrants to Finland in an attempt to destabilize the country.

During a visit to the Finland-Russia border on Thursday, von der Leyen accused Moscow of weaponizing migration to retaliate against Finland for joining NATO.

"Putin is focusing on Finland," von der Leyen said. "This is not just about the security of Finland, but it is about the security of the European Union." She emphasized that Russia's actions are part of a broader strategy to use migration as a tool to put pressure on European countries, particularly those that have joined NATO in response to the invasion of Ukraine. "Putin and his allies are exploiting migrants to assess our defenses and to attempt to undermine our stability," von der Leyen stated.

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, who accompanied von der Leyen on a flyover of the border region, called on the EU to help stop the influx of migrants arriving through Russia. Most of the migrants are from the Middle East or Africa and have sought asylum in Finland, a member of the EU and NATO with a population of 5.6 million. Orpo said the warmer weather increases the risk of Russia helping people illegally enter Finland via the land border.

Finland closed eight of its nine border crossings with Russia in mid-December, with the remaining one dedicated to rail travel. The Finnish government has accused Russia of orchestrating the migrant crisis as a "hybrid attack" on Europe and is currently drafting legislation to allow border guards to block asylum seekers from entering the country from Russia.

Why this matters: Finland's decision to join NATO in April 2023, ending decades of neutrality, dealt a major blow to Putin and triggered a historic realignment of Europe's post-Cold War security landscape. The escalating migrant situation at the Finnish-Russian border highlights the ongoing tensions between Russia and its neighboring countries, as well as the broader implications for European security.

Von der Leyen expressed the EU's support for Finland, stating that "the European Union is there to support you in your efforts" to counter the hybrid threat. She also noted that the EU Commission is working closely with the countries of origin of the migrants to stop the irregular arrivals while balancing security and international obligations. The EU chief's visit to the border area underscores the bloc's commitment to assisting Finland in securing its external borders against hybrid threats orchestrated by Moscow.

Key Takeaways

  • EU chief warns Putin is sending migrants to destabilize Finland after its NATO bid.
  • Russia using migration as a "hybrid attack" to undermine Finland and EU security.
  • Finland closing border crossings, drafting laws to block asylum seekers from Russia.
  • EU pledges support to Finland, working to stop irregular migrant arrivals from origin countries.
  • Migrant crisis at Finland-Russia border highlights ongoing tensions between Russia and neighbors.