Russia 'sends migrants over border with EU to Finland on scooters and bikes' to destabilise Europe

20 November 2023, 13:35

Migrants have been crossing the Finnish border from Russia on bikes and scooters
Migrants have been crossing the Finnish border from Russia on bikes and scooters. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Russia has been accused of sending migrants over its border with Finland on scooters and bikes in a bid to destabilise the EU.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Finland has an 830-mile border with Russia. Some 300 migrants crossed last week, a huge increase on the average, which is close to zero.

The migrants were mostly young men from Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Somalia.

Finnish officials have said that Russia is equipping the migrants with scooters and bikes to help them get across.

People are usually forbidden from walking between the Russian and Finnish checkpoints.

Read more: Russian journalist who protested war in Ukraine on live TV may have been poisoned

Read more: Ukrainian boy, 10, wearing Spiderman pyjamas, killed alongside grandma in Russian missile attack on Kharkiv

Asylum seekers arriving in Finland
Asylum seekers arriving in Finland. Picture: Getty

Antti Häkkänen, the Finnish defence minister, said Russia was trying to destabilise the country by sending migrants across without the right documents.

“Russia has directed unspecified interference at the border,” he said, as reported by the Telegraph. "We know what Russia is doing.”

Finnish border guards used tear gas to push back migrants at one road crossing, with footage showing police jostling with people trying to gain entry.

Captain Jouko Kinnunen, a senior border guard, told Finnish channel MTV that they had to let the migrants in.

A border guard moves a bicycle of an asylum seeker at the Vartius border station in Kuhmo, Eastern Finland
A border guard moves a bicycle of an asylum seeker at the Vartius border station in Kuhmo, Eastern Finland. Picture: Getty

"We had to let these people into Finland because Russia would not take them back," he said.

Finland has also closed four of its eight road crossings with Russia. The remaining crossings are further north in the Arctic Circle, and migrants have reportedly begun to use them.

The government is considering closing all of the crossings, although Finnish human rights activists have said it has an obligation to take asylum seekers.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, praised Finland's border guards.

Migrants arriving from Russia at the Nuijamaa border station between Russia and Finland
Migrants arriving from Russia at the Nuijamaa border station between Russia and Finland. Picture: Alamy

She said: "Russia’s instrumentalisation of migrants is shameful. I thank the Finnish border guards for protecting our European borders."

Russia denied the claim and said that the migrants were in the country legally.

Kremlin officials said that the migrants were given the bikes and scooters by local businessmen.

Russia is said to be feeling more confident after Ukraine's counter-offensive faltered, and is looking to test weaknesses in the EU.

The Kremlin is said to have history with using migrants as a tool to destabilise the EU.

Intelligence reports from 2022 claimed that Russia was funnelling migrants from North Africa and the Middle East into the EU.

The bicycle and scooter tactics are thought not to be a coincidence, as Finland joined NATO this year, angering Russia. Finland is also hosting its first major naval tactical exercise as part of the defence bloc this week.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Katy Ashworth

Former TV presenter Katy Ashworth 'verbally and physically' abused by ex-partner, High Court hears

Nottingham City Council has a £23m gap in funds

Nottingham City Council declares itself 'bankrupt' with £23m funding gap

Eric Dupond-Moretti

Court clears France’s justice minister of conflict of interest

Rishi Sunak does not believe Brexit is "in peril"

Rishi Sunak does not believe Brexit is 'in peril' despite calls from EU chief Ursula von der Leyen for it to be reversed


Wolverines set for US government protection amid climate change threat

Kfir Bibas and his family were taken hostage

Fears for hostage baby Kfir Bibas after Hamas say he was killed in airstrike, as Israel investigate claims

Omid Scobie has said the names of those at the centre of the royal race row could come out

Omid Scobie threatens to name royals at centre of racism storm amid growing row over incendiary Endgame claims

Greggs is opening a 'fine-dining bistro'

Greggs to open 'fine-dining bistro', with menu taking old favourites to 'new culinary heights' in 'Paris-inspired space'

Sajid Javid said he quit because of Dominic Cummings' behaviour

Dominic Cummings was seeking to 'act as the Prime Minister in all but name', Covid inquiry hears

Ada Sagi was released by Hamas on Tuesday.

'It's such a huge relief': London man tells of 'joy' as mum is freed by Hamas

Javier Milei

Argentina’s president-elect announces choice for economy minister

More than 4,000 children were treated for head injuries sustained during sport over the last year.

Alarming rise in children's sports head injuries prompts calls for improved safety measures amid long-term effects warnings

Keir Starmer hit out at Rishi Sunak over cancelling the meeting with the Greek Prime Minister amid an Elgin Marbles row

Starmer slams Sunak for 'trying to humiliate' Greek PM over Elgin Marbles row as he accuses him of 'small politics'

Marcia Grant was killed on her own driveway

Boy aged 13 who ran over and killed woman with her own car receives two-year sentence

GoFundMe set up for 'heroic' crane driver.

'Buy Glen a drink': GoFundMe page set up to reward hero crane driver who rescued trapped colleague reaches £6,000

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick (l) has said action needs to be taken as the shortage occupation list is being looked at

'Worker shortage list' including ballet dancers could be axed as ministers battle to reduce migration