Russia will shut off gas to Finland from Saturday, Finnish energy provider says

Environment

A drilling rig at a gas processing facility, operated by Gazprom.
Maxim Shemetov | Reuters

Russia may have just made its first retaliatory move against Finland after lawmakers in Helsinki officially applied to join the military alliance NATO.

Gasum, Finland’s state-owned gas wholesaler, said in a statement Friday morning that natural gas imports from Russia will be halted from Saturday.

“On the afternoon of Friday May 20, Gazprom Export informed Gasum that natural gas supplies to Finland under Gasum’s supply contract will be cut on Saturday May 21, 2022 at 07.00,” it said in a statement.

Gasum’s CEO Mika Wiljanen added that the company had been preparing for such a situation “and provided that there will be no disruptions in the gas transmission network, we will be able to supply all our customers with gas in the coming months.”

“Gasum will supply natural gas to its customers from other sources through the Balticconnector pipeline. Gasum’s gas filling stations in the gas network area will continue in normal operation,” he said.

A spokesperson for Gazprom was not immediately available when contacted by CNBC.

It comes after Russia’s state-run gas giant Gazprom in April told Poland and Bulgaria that it would halt supplies after both countries refused Moscow’s demand to pay for gas supplies in rubles.

Finland applies to join NATO

Gasum gave no reason for the move, but Finland has also reportedly refused to pay for Russian gas in rubles. It also comes just two days after Finland formally applied to join NATO. Russia had warned of retaliation if the traditionally-neutral nation became a member of the Western military alliance.

After Finland’s application, alongside fellow Nordic nation Sweden, Moscow wasted no time in making its feelings known, with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying Monday that the expansion of NATO “is a problem.”

Putin said Russia would respond to an expansion of military infrastructure in Sweden and Finland, but also insisted Moscow had “no problems” with the countries.

Finland’s and Sweden’s membership in NATO is not a done deal yet as any decision on enlargement requires the approval of all 30 members of the alliance and their parliaments — and Turkey has already voiced objections.

—CNBC’s Holly Ellyatt contributed to this article.

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