Moscow on Monday rejected accusations by Finland that Russian border officials are systematically pushing irregular migrants into the Northern European country.
“We do not accept such accusations. Naturally, the border crossing is used by those who have the legal right to do so. In this regard, our border guards fully comply with all their official instructions,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters at a press briefing in Moscow.
Russia is unlikely to influence the situation on the border with Finland, Peskov said, adding that this is due to a lack of dialogue with Helsinki.
He further said that Russia deeply regrets Finland’s decision to close four of its border crossings with Russia, as Moscow and Helsinki have had “long-standing” and “very good relations” which were “pragmatic and based on mutual respect.”
“Of course, we regret that these relations were replaced by an exclusively Russophobic position, which the leaders of this neighboring country have now begun to adhere to. Unfortunately, this is the situation,” Peskov added.
Later in a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it held a conversation with Finnish Ambassador to Moscow Antti Helantera, and Moscow conveyed its protest over Helsinki’s decision to close the main border checkpoints between the two countries.
The statement said that Helsinki’s decision regarding migrant crossings into Finland and its claims that Russia “consciously” organized such a flow is “clearly provocative and clearly goes in line with attempts to further aggravate our relations.”
“The closure of checkpoints violates the rights and interests of tens of thousands of citizens of our countries. The decision was made hastily, without any consultations with the Russian side, which had previously been an integral part of cooperation in ensuring the effective functioning of the joint border,” the statement added.
On Nov. 16, Finland announced its decision to close four border crossings with Russia from midnight of Nov. 17 in response to suspicions that Russian officials had allowed undocumented asylum seekers to arrive at the Finnish border in growing numbers.
The following day, Helsinki issued another statement warning that the government was prepared to take additional action if the decision to close four border crossings with Russia did not help calm the situation on the eastern border with Russia.
According to Finnish public broadcaster YLE on Sunday, Capt. Jouko Kinnunen, the head of the southeastern border station of Vartius, also accused Russia of systematically pushing irregular migrants into the country.