The Finnish president informed his counterpart Vladimir Putin on Saturday of his country’s imminent candidacy for NATO, a step the Russian leader called a «mistake.»
«The conversation was direct and blunt and went smoothly. Avoiding tensions was considered important,» said Finnish head of state Sauli Niinistö, who has been in fluid contact with the Russian president over the years.
In a subsequent statement released by the Kremlin, Putin made it clear to his counterpart that «an end to the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake, as there is no threat to Finland’s security.»
«Such a change in the political orientation of the country may have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations, which have been developing for years in a spirit of good neighborliness and cooperation and were mutually advantageous,» the Kremlin added.
Niinistö and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced on Thursday that they were in favor of joining NATO «without delay» and the country is expected to make its candidacy official on Sunday.
The Nordic country believes that the invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s demands that NATO not expand justify its decision.
Sweden, which has also historically stayed out of military alliances, is also set to present its bid for NATO membership shortly after a meeting of the ruling Social Democratic party on Sunday.
– No Russian electricity –
In retaliation for these candidatures, Russia threatens «military-technical» measures. And maybe they have already started. This Saturday, electricity exports from Russia to Finland were suspended.
The company responsible for the import of Russian electricity in Finland, RAO Nordic, with 100% of its Russian capital, had announced on Friday that the supply was going to be suspended due to non-payments.
Continue reading the story
Russia’s exports to Finland «currently equal zero. This has been the case since midnight (9:00 p.m. GMT), as announced,» Timo Kaukonen, responsible for operations at Fingrid, the Finnish operator, told AFP.
The network currently works thanks to imports from Sweden, according to real-time information from Fingrid, which announced on Friday that it could perfectly do without Russian electricity.
Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometer border and a painful past with Russia, says it expects computer attacks and violations of its territory, after making its candidacy official.
In addition to Russian suspicion, the future accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO has also generated the displeasure of Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not hide his rejection at the idea of their being part of the Alliance, which has 30 members, including Turkey.
Erdogan reproached the two countries for being a «refuge for PKK terrorists», the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, considered terrorist by Turkey, but also by the European Union (EU) and the United States.
Turkey could block these accessions because unanimity is needed to receive new members.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assured that the two Nordic countries will be received with «open arms» in the Alliance.
A new stage in the process towards accession took place this Saturday in Helsinki, when the Prime Minister’s Social Democratic Party gave its approval to the country’s candidacy.
Of the 60 members of the party leadership, 53 voted in favor of accession, 5 against and two abstained.
Finland’s parliament will meet on Monday and cast a vote in favor of accession during the day, after consulting the 200 deputies.