Finland reported today that “thousands” of migrants from third countries are waiting to cross into its territory from its border with Russia.

Helsinki closed all border crossings on the 1,340 km long border with Russia at the end of last year, as the arrivals of undocumented migrants wishing to cross into the European Union increased. Finland accuses Moscow of pushing migrants across its borders, which the Kremlin denies.

“We have information that thousands of people from the Russian side are waiting to cross into Finland,” Interior Minister Marie Radtanen told a news conference, noting that this was a “threat to society.”

Radtanen declined to specify how the Finnish authorities obtained this information.

In winter, the border area is covered in thick snow and polar temperatures prevail, but Radtanen said more migrants may seek to cross illegally when spring arrives and temperatures gradually rise. He noted that existing European legislation does not offer solutions for handling situations like the one facing Finland.

According to the Finnish border guard, more than 1,300 asylum seekers from countries such as Yemen, Somalia and Syria crossed into the country from Russia between August and December. In November alone, 900 arrivals were recorded. By comparison, before August only one person per day passed on average. The immigration agency told Reuters in January that it had failed to trace about 160 of those migrants who likely continued their journey to another European country.

Russia’s relations with Finland, once relatively cordial, have deteriorated rapidly since Helsinki decided to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The interior ministry announced yesterday, Monday, that it will push forward a bill to strengthen border security and to combat Moscow’s efforts to pressure Finland by instrumentalizing migrants. The government will present its proposal to parliament next month.