Finnish officials said their Russian counterparts were handing out cheap bicycles and scooters to migrants because people are banned from walking between Russian and Finnish border checkpoints.
Video showed migrants arriving in groups of four or five at cold, dark Finnish border crossings, rolling or pushing their bikes or scooters.
At one checkpoint, Finnish police used tear gas to push back a crowd of migrants who had initially been refused entry. Photos showed police and migrants, still holding hands with their bikes, arguing and shoving each other.
“We had to let these people into Finland because Russia did not want to take them back,” Captain Jouko Kinnunen, head of the border post, told Finnish channel MTV.
Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia. Three of the four remaining open Finnish road border crossings with Russia are inside the Arctic Circle, but Finnish media reported that migrants began using these border crossings as soon as the more accessible checkpoints in the south -east of the country were closed.
The Finnish government has threatened to close all its crossing points with Russia to block migrants, even though the country’s rights advocates have said it has an obligation to welcome asylum seekers.
Ursula von der Leyenthe President of the European Commission, declared that Finland was now defending the EU.
“Russia’s exploitation of migrants is shameful. I thank the Finnish border guards for protecting our European borders,” she said.