Mikhail Svetlov via Getty Images
INTERNATIONAL – First response from the Kremlin. Russia will suspend its electricity deliveries to Finland from this Saturday, May 14, due to unpaid bills, announced this Friday, May 13 the supplier RAO Nordic Oy, 100% owned by the Russian company InterRAO. For its part, the Finnish network operator claims to be able to do without Russian electricity.
This announcement comes against a backdrop of rising tensions between Moscow and Helsinki, which has announced its desire to join NATO “without delay” under the influence of the Russian offensive in Ukraine. An intention seen with a very bad eye by Moscow which has already threatened a “military-technical” response.
Helsinki-based RAO Nordic Oy has not received payment for electricity supplied to Finland since May 6, the group said in a statement, citing a lack of means to pay for electricity imported from Russia.
“This situation is exceptional and takes place for the first time in more than 20 years,” the statement said. “We are therefore obliged to suspend the import of electricity from May 14”, explains the supplier who hopes “that the situation will soon improve” and that deliveries from Russia will resume.
No worries on the Finnish side
The Finnish electricity network operator has assured that it can do without power imports from Russia. “We were prepared for this and it won’t be difficult. We can manage with a little more imports from Sweden and Norway,” Timo Kaukonen, an operations manager for operator Fingrid, told AFP on Friday.
The President and Prime Minister of Finland said they were in favor of joining NATO “without delay” on Thursday, specifying that the decision of the Nordic country would be announced to the organization on Sunday.
Finland’s entry into NATO would “certainly” be a threat to Russia, the Kremlin reacted at the time. Russian diplomacy affirmed for its part that Russia will be “obligated to take reciprocal, military-technical and other measures, in order to put an end to the threats to its national security”, in the event of Finland joining the Organization. of the North Atlantic Treaty.
Turkey is (already) blocking
In this context of rapprochement of Finland and Sweden to the Atlantic Alliance, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed this Friday his hostility to the accession of the two Nordic countries to NATO, at the risk of blocking the whole of the process which requires the unanimity of the members of the Atlantic Alliance.
“We don’t have a positive opinion,” Erdogan said, explaining that he “does not want to see the same mistake made when Greece joined” again. The Turkish head of state notably criticized these two Nordic countries for serving as a “hostel for the terrorists of the PKK”, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, considered a terrorist organization by Ankara, but also by the European Union and United States.
“We are currently following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we do not have a positive opinion, because they made a mistake in NATO regarding Greece before, against Turkey,” said the head of state at the end of Friday prayers in Istanbul. “We don’t want to make a second mistake,” he insisted.
Ankara throws a chill on NATO
This declaration casts an immediate chill on a process supported so far by most NATO members and by the Secretary General of the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, who said he was ready to welcome them “with open arms”.
For its part, Washington “is working to clarify Turkey’s position,” said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Friday. The United States is “seeking to better understand Turkey’s position”, said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, saying that the country was “a valuable NATO ally” and that this had “no exchange”.
Turkey “has been involved and effective in trying to establish a dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, and it has provided assistance to Ukraine,” he added. “So nothing changes about its position in the NATO alliance.”
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