Russia has stopped gas exports to Finland, which is symbolic | négoce infos

JARI TANNER, Associated Press

HELSINKI (AP) — Russia on Saturday suspended gas exports to neighboring Finland in a highly symbolic move that comes just days after the Scandinavian nation announced its desire to join NATO and ended nearly 50 years of Finnish imports natural gas from Russia.

The measure, taken by Russian energy giant Gazprom, was in line with an earlier announcement following Helsinki’s refusal to pay for gas in rubles, as Russian President Vladimir Putin demands from European countries after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 2. 24.

Finnish state gas company Gasum said “natural gas supplies to Finland under the Gasum supply contract have been terminated” by Russia on Saturday morning at 7 am local time (0400 GMT).

The announcement follows Moscow’s decision to halt electricity exports to Finland earlier this month and an earlier decision by Finnish state oil company Neste to replace imports of Russian crude with crude from other countries.

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After decades of energy cooperation that was seen as beneficial to both Helsinki – especially in the case of inexpensive Russian crude oil – and Moscow, Finland’s energy ties with Russia have all but ceased.

Such a gap was easier for Finland than for other European Union countries. Natural gas only accounts for about 5% of total energy consumption in Finland, a country of 5.5 million people. Almost all of this gas comes from Russia and is used mainly by industrial and other companies, where only about 4,000 households use gas heating.

Gasum said it will now supply natural gas to its customers from other sources via the Balticconnector subsea gas pipeline, which runs between Finland and Estonia and connects the Finnish and Baltic gas networks.

Matti Vanhanen, former Finnish prime minister and current speaker of parliament, said that Moscow’s decision to shut off gas supplies almost 50 years after the first shipments from the Soviet Union began was symbolic above all else.

In an interview on Saturday with Finnish public broadcaster YLE, Vanhanen said the decision marks the end of “an extremely important period between Finland, the Soviet Union and Russia, not only energetically but also symbolically.”

“This pipeline is unlikely to ever open again,” Vanhanen told YLE, referring to the two parallel Russia-Finland gas pipelines that went online in 1974.

The first connections of Finland’s power grid to the Soviet transmission system were also built in the 1970s, allowing electricity to be imported into Finland if additional capacity was needed.

Vanhanen saw Moscow’s gas cut not as a Russian response to Finland’s NATO bid, but rather as a response to Western sanctions imposed on Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia has done the same thing with Finland that it has done with some other countries in the past to keep its credibility,” Vanhanen said, referring to the Kremlin’s demands to buy its gas in rubles.

Finland shares 1,340 kilometers (830 miles) with Russia, is the longest of the 27 EU member states, and has a history of conflict with its vast eastern neighbor.

Having lost two wars to the Soviet Union, in World War II Finland chose neutrality with stable and pragmatic political and economic ties with Moscow. Large-scale energy cooperation, including in nuclear energy, between the two countries was one of the most visible signs of friendly bilateral ties between former enemies.

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