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29 Nov, 2023 18:51

Kremlin questions NATO state’s military buildup

Poland has announced sending “military advisors” to Finland’s border with Russia
Kremlin questions NATO state’s military buildup

Finland has no reason to enhance its military posture on the Russian border, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Wednesday. Such action by Helsinki can only spark tensions in relations with Moscow, he said.

On Tuesday, Poland said it would send a team of military specialists to the Finnish border with Russia. A request by Helsinki “for allied support” was made “in the face of a hybrid attack on the Finnish border,” the head of the Polish National Security Bureau, Jacek Siewiera, said in a statement on X (formerly Twitter).

“A team of military advisors will provide on-site knowledge on border security, including in an operational sense,” the Polish official added, without revealing the exact number of specialists Warsaw plans to send.

“No one and nothing is threatening Finland,” spokesman Peskov said, calling the military buildup an “absolutely excessive measure in defense of the border, because there is no threat and no real tension there.”

Poland deployed its military to its border with Belarus and declared a state of emergency in nearby areas in 2021 in response to an influx of asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa. Warsaw blamed the crisis on Minsk, which Belarusian authorities rejected.

Helsinki has announced plans to fully close the border with Russia over what it called a “Russian hybrid operation” involving asylum seekers from third nations. The last land crossing between the two countries – at Raja-Jooseppi, located above the Arctic Circle – is to be shut down on Thursday and stay closed until at least December 13.

Seven other checkpoints were closed earlier this month due to a surge in migrant arrivals. Finnish authorities called the development Moscow’s retaliation for the Nordic state's accession to NATO in April. Russia has dismissed the allegations as “completely baseless.”

Speaking about the upcoming troop deployment on Wednesday, Peskov called it “an absolutely unprovoked, unjustified concentration of military units on the Russian border.” According to Reuters, Finland said on the same day it was unaware of the Polish offer.

The Kremlin spokesman warned that, if new NATO forces do arrive at the frontier with Russia, it might lead to an escalation of tension in relations between the two neighbors. “The Finns must be fully aware of the fact that it would pose a danger for us,” he said. “That is how we see it,” Peskov added.

Over 600 migrants seeking asylum have arrived at the border this month alone, a Finnish border officer told The Guardian last week. It represents a massive increase over the usual single-digit numbers, with 62 reportedly arriving on a single day.

The migrants come from countries including Yemen, Afghanistan, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria, according to immigration authorities.

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