14:58 GMT +319 February 2017
    Refugees walk through the pouring rain from a public transport centre to the Lappia-building refugee reception centre in Tornio, northwestern Finland, on September 2015

    Finland to Test Drones Along Russian Border as Migrant Crisis Deepens

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    Finland plans to test drones along its frontier with Russia as an increasing number of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa cross the country’s Arctic border.

    Major Jussi Napola, of the Finnish border guard, said Helsinki intends to run the tests along its 833-mile (1,340-kilometer) border with Russia.

    "The plan is to test the remote piloted aerial system in operational use at the Russian border and the coastal areas. We want to see if the technology suits our needs and if it is suitable for Finnish conditions," Napola said.

    A growing number of migrants have crossed the northern border of the European Union's Schengen visa-free travel zone. The flow of migrants has become an issue at high-level meetings between Helsinki and Moscow.

    Last month, Finland criticized Russia, saying it has allowed an increasing numbers of asylum seekers to cross their border. The countries have since agreed to step up cooperation at the border.

    According to the Finnish border guard, about 500 asylum seekers have come from Russia to Finland this year, compared with about 700 in 2015.

    The European Union is already using drones to help monitor the flow of migrants and refugees over the Mediterranean. Napola said his country's  border guard has worked with the EU border agency Frontex in reviewing different drone options.

    "The development of the technology has turned this into a viable, and possibly cost effective option for us. Our target now is to get more experience of their operational capabilities," he said.

    refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, Russia, Sweden
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    • avatar
      be careful not to abuse. Russia can drop drones.
    • avatar
      ...and Finnish conditions (Russia's conditions also) will be the deciding factor. Using commercially available drones wouldn't be effective, how many would be required to patrol? How many operators etc? It seems more likely that they would need something akin to the MQ 9 Reaper but winter flying?
    • Mother Gorilla
      It's a war, but the sides are murky, since one could argue that the Americans and the Turks are sending the Europeans (including Russia) the refugees. To allow them to test their weaponry? No reason to kill innocent civilians just tagging along.
    • avatar
      These are no migrants from Russia and why does Russuia permit them to cross over ist land?
      Does Russia not protect ist borders anymore?
    • avatar
      cmat.wolfgangin reply tocmat.wolfgang(Show commentHide comment)
      I have a problem with typig "its"
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