Russia has shut down all gas exports to neighboring Finland after the Nordic country refused to pay for Russian gas supplies in roubles.
The Russian government announced the cut-off on Saturday, just days after Finland announced it is applying to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
On Friday, the Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom gave notice to its Finnish equivalent Gasum.
The notice stated that natural gas supplies will be cut off to Finland on Saturday at 7:00 a.m. local time.
Finnish gas system operator Gasgrid Finland confirmed the Russian gas supplies have been cut off on Saturday.
“Gas imports through Imatra entry point have been stopped,” Gasgrid Finland said in a statement on Saturday. Imatra is the entry point for Russian gas into Finland.
Gasum and Gazprom also confirmed on Saturday the gas flows had stopped.
“Natural gas supplies to Finland under Gasum’s supply contract have been cut off,” Gasum said in a statement.
“Starting from today, during the upcoming summer season, Gasum will supply natural gas to its customers from other sources through the Balticconnector pipeline.”
Balticconnector links Finland to neighboring Estonia’s gas grid and has been in service since 2020.
Gazprom’s decision follows a dispute over the payments for Russian natural gas shipments, which President Vladimir Putin has demanded be made in roubles, the fiat currency of the Russian Federation.
This is apparently in violation of existing contracts between Russia and members of the European Union, which stipulate that fuel payments may be made in euros.
Finland ultimately refused the ultimatum to pay in roubles.
The decision from Moscow follows hot on the heels of Finland’s recent decision to join NATO, ending a decades-long precedent of neutrality for the Nordic nation.
The Kingdom of Sweden followed in its neighbor’s footsteps.
Both countries submitted formal NATO membership applications on Wednesday.
The admission of these countries would have great geopolitical significance, greatly expanding NATO’s land border with Russia and changing the military balance of power in the region.
Finland, in part due to its policy of “active neutrality,” maintains a formidable military for a nation of its size, with only 23,000 active military servicemen but about 900,000 reservists, thanks to Finland’s compulsory conscription policy.
Sweden’s primary military strength is its navy, which would provide NATO with additional muscle in the Baltic Sea.
Though the applications of the two Nordic countries have been met with enthusiasm from NATO leadership, their acceptance into the alliance has been stalled by opposition from Turkey, which has stated it will not accept the addition of these two countries barring the extradition of the Turkish regime’s political enemies currently in exile in Finland and Sweden.
“It is highly regrettable that natural gas supplies under our supply contract will now be halted,” Gasum CEO Mika Wiljanen said in a statement.
“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.”
The threat of Russian aggression looms large in the cultural memory of the Finns.
Finland was a subject of the Russian Empire for over a century in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Following its independence, Finland experienced intermittent conflict with the Soviet Union, including the brutal Winter War in 1939–1940, ultimately resulting in the concessions of geopolitically and culturally significant Finnish territories.