: RFE/RL: Russia, Finland agree to temporarily close Arctic border to migrants

12:20 Mar. 23, 2016

RFE/RL: Russia, Finland agree to temporarily close Arctic border to migrants

Vladimir Putin, right, meets with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, March 22, 2016 (AP Photo)

Crossings at the Salla and Raja-Jooseppi entry points will be reserved only for Finnish, Russian, and Belarusian citizens

Russia and Finland have agreed to temporary restrictions at two Arctic border crossings following an increase in migrants seeking asylum there this year.

Under a deal clinched by presidents Vladimir Putin and Sauli Niinisto in Moscow on March 22, crossings at the Salla and Raja-Jooseppi entry points will be reserved only for Finnish, Russian, and Belarusian citizens and family members for six months.

Watch also Abandoned cars line Russia-Finland border as asylum seekers take Arctic route into Europe

"The aim of this restriction is to prevent organized illegal immigration," the Finnish president's office said.

Watch also Migrants in Greece wonder what next after signing of EU-Turkey deal

Finland's 1,340-kilometer border with Russia provided a relatively easy way for migrants to get into the European Union's passport-free Schengen area. Close to 1,000 asylum seekers entered Finland from Russia in the first two months of 2016, up from about 700 in all of 2015. Full story

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