Russia may soon halt gas supplies to Finland as its northwestern neighbor intends to join the NATO alliance, reports said Thursday.
Finnish politicians have sounded the alarm that Moscow could block the country’s energy supplies as early as Friday, but officials claim they were preparing for such a possibility, according to the Iltalehti news agency.
The EU accuses Russia of ‘blackmail’ after cutting off gas to Poland and Bulgaria
Finland, traditionally a neutral country, has entered the murky arena of geopolitics and is the latest country to be threatened by Russia.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden announced they would consider joining NATO to strengthen their security amid concerns about instability in Europe.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Thursday Finland should start the NATO application process “immediately”.
“NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the overall defense alliance,” the leaders said in a joint statement.
The Kremlin calls Finland’s NATO movement a threat to Russia
Russia has threatened to deploy nuclear and hypersonic missile systems along its northwestern border with Finland should Helsinki and Stockholm expand NATO.
However, Finland was reportedly prepared for gas ties with Russia to go awry ahead of Thursday’s announcement.
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Helsinki announced last month that it would not pay for Russian gas supplies in rubles after Russian President Vladimir Putin ruled in late March that all nations must pay gas tariffs in Russian currency.
The move was an attempt to prop up the paralyzed Russian economy after it was hit with harsh international sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine.
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Moscow halted gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after they refused to meet Putin’s tax demands.
The Finnish government has yet to comment publicly on the alleged threat to its gas supplies, and the local publication said unnamed government sources were waiting to see how Russia would respond.