helsinki, Finland May 21-Russia on Saturday stopped supplying natural gas to neighboring Finland, which angered Moscow by asking for NATO membership, after the Nordic country refused to pay supplier Gazprom in roubles.
Following Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Moscow asked its customers from “hostile countries” – including EU member states – to pay for gas in roubles, a way to circumvent Western financial sanctions against its central bank.
Gazprom said in a statement on Saturday that it had “completely halted gas deliveries” because it had not received ruble payments from Finland’s state-owned energy company Gasum “by the end of the May 20 working day”. .
Gazprom said it supplied 1.49 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Finland in 2021, around two-thirds of the country’s gas consumption.
However, natural gas accounts for about 8% of Finnish energy.
Gasum said it would make up the shortfall from other sources through the Balticconnector gas pipeline, which connects Finland to Estonia, and assured gas stations would operate as normal.
“Finland’s natural gas supply under Gasum’s supply contract has been interrupted,” the company said in a statement.
In April, Gazprom Export demanded that future payments for the supply contract be made in rubles instead of euros.
Gasum denied the request and announced on Tuesday that he was submitting the matter to arbitration.
Gazprom Export said it would defend its interests in court by all “available means”.
Gasum said it would be able to obtain gas from other sources and that gas filling stations in the network area would continue to “operate normally”.
– Rupture around the NATO candidacy –
In order to mitigate the risks of depending on Russian energy exports, the Finnish government also announced on Friday that it had signed a 10-year lease agreement for an LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal with the American company Excelerate Energy.
Russia on Sunday suspended electricity supplies to Finland overnight after its energy company RAO Nordic claimed overdue payments, although the shortfall was quickly made up.
Finland, along with neighboring Sweden, broke their historic military non-alignment this week and applied for NATO membership, after public and political support for the Western alliance soared following the invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow warned Finland that any application for NATO membership would be “a serious mistake with far-reaching consequences”.
Finland and Sweden are apparently on the fast track to joining the military alliance, with US President Joe Biden offering “total, total and complete support” for their bids.
But NATO’s current 30 members must agree on any new entrants, and Turkey has condemned the Nordic neighbors’ alleged tolerance of Kurdish militants and has so far resisted letting them in.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the Kremlin would respond to any NATO expansion by creating more military bases in western Russia.
The halt to gas shipments on Saturday follows Moscow cutting off Poland and Bulgaria last month in a move the European Union called “blackmail”.