Russia has confirmed that it is no longer supplying gas to Finland as relations between the two northern countries hit an all time low.
Former US President John McCain once quipped that “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country” but Finland had a relatively low reliance on its eastern neighbour. Less than 10% of its energy consumption came from Russia gas and Helsinki said keeping the lights on would not be a problem.
"We have been carefully preparing for this 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," Mika Wiljanen, CEO of Finland’s state owned energy firm, told journalists.
Officially, Moscow has acted because Finland declined to pay for gas in roubles but most observers have concluded it is in retaliation for the country’s application for NATO membership.
The decision upended decades of Finnish military policy and former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said the invasion of Ukraine has changed the way Helsinki views its neighbour:
“It’s really about security,” Mr Stubb told The Hard Shoulder.
“And I think the starting point is that if Vladimir Putin can slaughter his brothers and sisters in Ukraine there’s nothing stopping him doing that elsewhere.
“Finns never want to be left alone again - as we were in World War II.
“We have a very strong military, sophisticated and modern but the more security we can get the better off we are.
“So basically it is about maximising security for Finland, Sweden, the Baltic sea region, Europe and the [NATO] alliance.”
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The application has been enthusiastically welcomed by some members of the alliance; US President Joe Biden said, “I warmly welcome and strongly support the historic applications from Finland and Sweden for membership in NATO.”
However, from Ankara there was a note of discord; President Erdogan has said he will block both Sweden and Finland from joining because of their support for Kurdish “terrorists”.
Turkey has previously supported the expansion of the military alliance but only after leveraging concessions out of other members and observers believe Erdogan’s stance relates to ongoing negotiations with Washington over the purchase of F-35 fighter jets.
"The price is unknown at the moment, but that there will be a price is clear,” Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, a former Dutch Prime Minister and Secretary General of NATO, told Politico.
Main image: A Russian gas pipeline. Picture by: Alamy.com