Finland decided to join NATO, and Sweden followed.
Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, purportedly intended to prevent NATO’s enlargement, has had the opposite effect. The Nordic neighbours abandoned decades of military non-alignment in a seismic shift in Europe’s security order.
Turkey has vetoed the fats-track entry for the Nordic countries, and the accession process could take longer than the two weeks the alliance had expected. The expansion of NATO requires the approval of all 30 members, followed by ratification by their parliaments, which may take up to a year. Given the potential Russian threat to Finland and Sweden, the alliance has stated that it intends to respond as quickly as possible.
Russia has started moving against this decision; it will halt natural gas exports to Finland as of Saturday, barely two days after Helsinki sought NATO membership in response to security concerns raised by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Friday, Gazprom, the Russian state energy giant, confirmed the move to Gasum, a state-owned Finnish company. Russia is scheduled to cut supply at 4 am on Saturday.
The Kremlin claimed it decided because Finland refused to pay for gas in roubles, as the Putin government wanted following the imposition of western sanctions. The export freeze after Russia cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland is most likely linked to Finland’s NATO membership ambition. Although Finland relies heavily on Russian gas, it only accounts for a modest portion of its total energy consumption.
Gasum has already stated that it will meet demand via the Balticconnector pipeline connecting Finland and Estonia.
In response to the Russian gas development, Mika Wiljanen, the company’s chief executive, said that there should not be disruption to the consumers.
Russia also stopped Finland’s electrical supply on Sunday. If Finland applied to join NATO, it had promised reprisal. RAO Nordic, a Russian energy supplier, cited payment issues as the reason for the power outage. The firm claimed it had not been compensated for earlier deliveries.
However, the Finnish grid operator stated that Russia only provided a small percentage of its electricity and that other sources could replace it.
Russia promised to take “retaliatory steps” after Finland announced its intention to join NATO on Thursday, and this was one of Moscow’s earliest threats before the official announcement.
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