Russia will stop exporting natural gas to Finland from Saturday, just two days after Helsinki applied for Nato membership in response to security concerns triggered by the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Gazprom, the Russian state energy giant, confirmed the move to the Finnish company Gasum on Friday.
It is expected that Russia will cut supplies around 4am on Saturday morning.
Moscow said it took the decision because Finland had refused to pay for gas in roubles, something the Putin regime demanded after western sanctions were imposed.
However, the export freeze, which comes after Russia stopped supplying gas to Bulgaria and Poland, is likely to be connected to Finland’s bid to join Nato.
Although Finland mainly uses Russian-sourced gas, it only accounts for a small percentage of its total energy consumption.
Gasum has already indicated that it will fulfil demand through Finland’s Balticconnector pipeline with Estonia.
Responding to the Russian gas development, Mika Wiljanen, the company’s chief executive, said: “It is highly regrettable that natural gas supplies under our supply contract will now be halted.
“However, 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.”
Other Finnish companies like Stora Enso, a paper and pulp manufacturer, have also already made contingency plans. The firm said it is now stocked with liquefied natural gas (LNG) instead of Russian gas.
The fuel accounts for some five per cent of Finland’s gas.
Russia initially responded harshly to Finland and Sweden’s decision to seek Nato membership, threatening serious repercussions. It later tempered its response, with Russian president Vladimir Putin saying their accession to Nato would pose “no immediate threat” to his country.
“But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response,” he added.