Russian energy company RAO Nordic shut off electricity supplies to neighbouring Finland over the weekend, claiming that it had not received payments from Finland due to sanctions.
RAO Nordic, a subsidiary of the Russian energy company Inter RAO, suspended the export of electricity on May 14th according to an announcement made by Finland’s majority state-owned national electricity transmission grid operator Fingrid.
“In practice, the notification means that there will be no Russian electricity in Finland at all for the time being,” the Director of Operations at Fingrid Reima Päivinen told state broadcaster Yle.
Around ten per cent of Finland’s electricity is imported from Russia but Fingrid has claimed that Finns’ electrical needs will still be met even if no electricity is being imported from Russia at all.
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“It is, of course, spring-summer and the amount of consumption has decreased from the peak winter consumption. Finland will do just fine without Russian electricity. Replacement electricity comes from domestic production or imports mainly from Sweden and the Baltics,” Päivinen said.
RAO Nordic has claimed that the shut off is related to missing payments saying, “Due to problems in receiving payments for electricity sold on the market, further direct or bilateral sales of electricity imported from Russia will be halted until further notice.”
Others have raised questions about the timing of the electricity shut off, including lobbyist Jukka Leskelä, CEO of the Energy Industry Association, who said the move may be tied to Finland possibly joining the NATO alliance after Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced they backed the country joining NATO last week.
Russia has previously expressed displeasure about both Finland and Sweden potentially joining NATO.
Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the issue Monday saying, “As to enlargement, Russia has no problem with these states – none. And so in this sense, there is no immediate threat to Russia from an expansion (of NATO) to include these countries.”
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“But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response,” Putin said and added, “What that (response) will be – we will see what threats are created for us.”
The move by RAO Nordic to cut off supplies to Finland comes as Russian energy giant Gazprom announced that it would no longer be sending exported gas to Europe through the Yamal pipeline, which goes through Poland to reach Germany, the largest importer of Russian gas in Europe.
“A ban is in place on making transactions with and payments to persons under sanctions. In particular, for Gazprom, this means a ban on the use of a gas pipeline owned by (the Polish company) EuRoPol GAZ to transport Russian gas through Poland,” Gazprom representative Sergey Kupriyanov stated.
Earlier this year, following sanctions enacted after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Putin announced that “unfriendly” nations would be forced to pay for energy in roubles rather than euros or dollars.
The Gazprom bank later announced a scheme to allow countries to deposit euros and dollars and the bank would then convert the money to roubles and transfer the roubles to a new account, which would then be used to pay for energy.
Several companies, such as Italian energy giant Eni and others were rumoured to have been preparing late last month to open accounts in roubles in order to take part in the scheme, which allegedly allowed firms to avoid breaking sanctions.
Major energy firms in Italy, Germany and elsewhere in Europe are allegedly preparing to open accounts in Russian roubles in order to pay for Russian gas in a scheme that may sidestep sanctions. https://t.co/hG49aaYpQa
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