Hours after Moscow warned there would be retaliation for Helsinki’s announcement that it is applying for NATO membership, Finnish media reports that the Kremlin threatened to cut the country off from Russian gas by Friday.
Citing unnamed sources, Finland’s Iltalehti reported the Russian warning to politicians, who refrained from specific comment.
Prior to this warning, the local media outlet noted expectations that Finland would be cut off from Russian gas after May 23rd, when its next contract payment with Gazprom comes due and the country refuses to pay in rubles. In late April, Russia cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria for refusing to pay in accordance with the Kremlin’s ruble scheme.
Speaking to Iltalehti on Thursday, Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen said he could not confirm the warning.
Parliamentary group chairman Ville Tavio told Iltalehti that working groups had been informed of “various scenarios of Russia’s retaliation”, noting that preparations have already been made.
Between 60% and 70% of Finland’s natural gas comes from Russia, though the country’s main sources of energy are oil, biomass and nuclear power, with natural gas representing only 5% of the total consumption. According to the Finnish government, renewable energy surpassed fossil fuels and peat in total energy consumption in 2020, leaving the country less dependent on Russian energy sources.
On Thursday, Finland announced their intention to apply for fast-tracked NATO membership due to Russian aggression in Ukraine. Sweden is expected to make its announcement in the coming days, according to the Associated Press.
“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said. “We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”
Russia has also threatened “military-technical” retaliation against Finland 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 that arise in this regard,” the Russian foreign ministry said.