Russia will suspend electricity supplies to Finland this weekend, a supplier said on Friday as tensions rise over Helsinki’s NATO bid following the conflict in Ukraine.
‘We are forced to suspend the electricity import starting from May 14,’ said RAO Nordic, a subsidiary of Russian state energy holding Inter RAO that sells its electricity on the Nordic market.
It blamed the suspension on not having received payment for electricity sold in May and said as a consequence it was no longer able to pay for more electricity from Russia.
Soldiers of NATO and allied countries during tactical tasks and crossing the Vistula River as part of the international military exercise Defender Europe 2022 in Poland today
‘This situation is exceptional and happened for the first time in over 20 years of our trading history,’ RAO Nordic said, hoping the situation would ‘soon’ improve and the trade could resume.
The Finnish electricity network operator said it would be able to make do without Russian electricity.
‘We’re prepared for this and it won’t be difficult. We can make do with a bit more imports from Sweden and Norway,’ Fingrid’s manager for operational planning Timo Kaukonen told AFP.
It comes as Russia yesterday accused Finland of ‘pushing above its weight’ as the country signalled its intention to join NATO. Pictured, soldiers of NATO and allied countries during an international military exercise in Poland today
He said a little less than 10 percent of electricity consumed in Finland comes from Russia.
RAO Nordic is not directly faced with Western sanctions over the invasion into Ukraine, Montel News reports. However the outlet adds Inter Rao Lietuva – its 51% owned Lithuanian subsidiary – is.
MailOnline has reached out to RAO Nordic for more information
The announcement of the cut in electricity supplies came one day after Finland’s leaders declared their nation must apply to join NATO ‘without delay’ – a seismic change in policy since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.
The Kremlin has warned Russia would ‘definitely’ see Finnish membership as a threat, while the Russian foreign ministry said Moscow would be ‘forced to take reciprocal steps, military-technical and other, to address the resulting threats’.
Soldiers of NATO and allied countries undertaking tasks as part of the international military exercise Defender Europe 2022 near the town of Golab near Pulawy, Poland, 13 May 2022
It comes as Russia yesterday accused Finland of ‘pushing above its weight’ as the country signalled its intention to join NATO.
Putin’s EU ambassador vowed to bolster defences on the Russia and Finland’s shared 800-mile-long border if it decided to join the alliance.
Vladimir Chizhov said if Finland joined it would lead to ‘certain military-technical measures, like improving or raising the degree of defence preparations along the Finnish border’.
Putin ‘s EU ambassador vowed to bolster defences on the Russia and Finland’s shared 800-mile-long border if it decided to join the alliance. Pictured, the international exercises ‘Defender Europe 2022’ and ‘Swift Response 2022’ which take place from 1 to 26 May at many European training grounds
A move would ‘certainly necessitate rethinking of Russian defence posture’ but not ‘necessarily [involve] troops and tanks, but certain preparations like radars, perhaps’, he told Sky News.
Yesterday a former British ambassador to Russia has said there may be ‘much more Russian nuclear deployment in the Baltic’ areas in response to Finland potentially becoming a NATO member in light of the war in Ukraine.
Sir Tony Brenton told BBC’s Newsnight programme the Kremlin may think ‘it expands their view of NATO as a threat to them’.
Reservists of the Karelia Brigade at a shooting practice during a defence exercise in Taipalsaari near Lappeenranta and close to the border with Russia, south-eastern Finland in March
Putin’s EU ambassador Vladimir Chizhov (pictured yesterday) said if Finland joined NATO it would lead to ‘certain military-technical measures, like improving or raising the degree of defence preparations along the Finnish border’
A Leopard battle tank of the Armoured Brigade is seen during the Army mechanised exercise Arrow 22 exercise at the Niinisalo garrison in Kankaanp”, Western Finland, on May 4
Finnish soldiers take part in the Army mechanised exercise Arrow 22 exercise at the Niinisalo garrison in Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 4
Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto makes a point during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Wednesday, May 11
He said: ‘They will be very conscious especially as this war winds its way to a conclusion that their conventional forces have not produced the results they hoped for.
‘They will be increasingly inclined therefore to use their nuclear strength as a demonstration they need to be taken seriously.
‘I think we need to resign ourselves to the likelihood of much more Russian nuclear deployment in the Baltic area as a response to Finland’s accession to NATO, when it comes, and Sweden’s very likely one as well.’
Today, Finland announced it intends to start the formal application process to join the military pact, more than doubling NATO’s presence on Russia’s borders from 754 miles to 1,584 miles.
The decision is a spectacular backfire for despot Vladimir Putin, who invaded Ukraine in part through fears of Volodymyr Zelensky joining the US-led alliance.
Meanwhile Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is not in favour of Sweden and Finland joining NATO, threatening to derail their membership bids.
Erdogan said the countries are ‘guesthouses for terrorist organisations’ such as the Kurdish PKK and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, a cleric accused of leading a coup against him in 2016, and added: ‘We cannot be positive towards this.’
But he did not declare outright opposition, leaving the door open to a deal. Sweden and Finland’s foreign ministers say they expect to speak with their Turkish counterpart on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Berlin tomorrow.
Turkish President Erdogan has said he is not in favour of Sweden and Finland being allowed to join NATO, accusing them of hosting ‘terrorists’
Ann Linde, Sweden’s top diplomat, told news agency AFP that she would have ‘the opportunity’ to talk about ‘a potential NATO application’ at the summit.
Meanwhile Finland’s Pekka Haavistosaid said he hoped to ‘continue our discussion’ with Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu in the German capital.
Erdogan’s remarks come just a day after Finland’s prime minister and president said it is in the country’s interests to join NATO, and they intend to submit a membership application within ‘days’.
Sweden, meanwhile, has published a technical paper on joining the alliance which warned that Russia could retaliate if it joins – but that membership would help prevent an armed attack.
Magdalena Andersson, the Swedish Prime Minister, will review the document over the weekend and announce her intention on Sunday. It is widely expected that she will announce her own intention to join.
But NATO is a 30-nation alliance, all of whom must vote unanimously in order for a new member to be accepted – meaning Erdogan’s opposition is significant.
Both Finland and Sweden are home to Kurdish minorities, some of whom are believed to be members of the PKK.
NATO has encouraged Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, to help bolster its northern flank in the Baltics against any Russian attack (pictured, a NATO drill this week)
NATO has said the Scandinavian countries would be welcomed with ‘open arms’, but the move could be blocked by Erdogan (pictured, a NATO drill at the weekend)
The group, which wants the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region, is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey and the US for attacks on civilians.
However, its Syrian sister group – the YPG/PKK – is allied to the US because it helped in the war against ISIS.
Finland and Sweden are also home to ‘Gulenists’ – supporters of cleric Fethullah Gulen who is a staunch opponent of Erdogan.
In 2016, an armed coup attempted to depose Erdogan and led to days of unrest during which the presidential palace and parliament were bombed by jets.
Turkey has sparred with both countries in the past over deporting alleged PKK members and Gulenists for trial – requests that have mostly been refused.
‘Turkish national security elites view Finland and Sweden as semi-hostile, given the presence of PKK and Gulenists. It’s gonna take arm twisting to get sign off,’ Aaron Stein, research director at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said on Twitter.
NATO says membership is open to any ‘European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area’.
Finland and Sweden are already NATO’s closest partners, sitting in on many meetings and taking part in joint military exercises.
Sanna Marin, the Finnish prime minister, announced her intention to submit a membership application to NATO on Thursday. Sweden is expected to follow
Much of their military equipment is inter-operable with NATO allies.
However, they cannot benefit from NATO’s collective defence clause – that an attack on one ally is an attack on all – until they join the alliance.
Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both had been locked into decades-old pledges of neutrality in return for promises from the Kremlin that it would not attack.
But, watching Russian tanks roll into Ukraine and devastate towns and cities, opinion rapidly shifted in favour of joining NATO.
Russia has threatening to retaliate with ‘military-technical’ measures, likely to include stationing more troops, missiles and potentially nuclear weapons on their borders.
Moscow has also threatened to cut off Finnish gas supplies, which could cripple the economy – though would also hurt Russia financially.
Turkey has tried to maintain a middle ground on the invasion, sending armed drones to Ukraine and trying to facilitate peace talks between the sides.
But it has not backed Western sanctions on Moscow and seeks to maintain close trade, energy and tourism ties with Russia.