Just hours after Moscow warned Helsinki of retaliation in response to Finland applying for NATO membership, Finnish media reported that the Kremlin had threatened to shut off the gas supply on Friday.
The Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported on the Russian warning, citing unnamed sources. Politicians declined to comment on the situation.
Earlier, local media suggested that the supply of Russian gas to Finland would be cut off after May 23: the payment deadline for the contract with Gazprom is approaching, and Helsinki refuses to pay in rubles. At the end of April, Russia cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria for refusing to pay under the Kremlin’s ruble scheme.
Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen told Iltalehti that he could not confirm the threat.
However, Ville Tavio, chairman of the parliamentary faction of the True Finns party, said that the working groups had already been informed about “various scenarios of Russian retaliation”, noting that the necessary preparations had already been made.
Between 60% and 70% of Finland’s natural gas comes from Russia, although the country’s main energy sources are oil, biomass and nuclear energy, and natural gas accounts for only 5% of total consumption. In 2020, the share of renewable energy surpassed fossil fuels and peat for the first time, according to the Finnish government, reducing dependence on Russian sources.
On Thursday, Finland announced its intention to apply for accelerated NATO membership, citing “Russian aggression” in Ukraine. Sweden is expected to make a similar announcement in the coming days, reports the Associated Press.
“Finland should apply for NATO membership without delay,” said President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin. “We hope that the national steps necessary for this decision will be taken within the next few days.”
Russia has threatened Finland with “military-technical” retaliation if it joins NATO.
“Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop the threats to its national security arising in this regard,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Author: Charles Kennedy