May 14 (UPI) — Russian electricity suppliers followed through on a threat to cut electricity flows to Finland on Saturday as the ruling Social Democratic Party formally backed NATO membership.
The public electricity operator Fingrid Oyj had warned that RAO Nordic Oy, a subsidiary of the Russian entity Inter RAO, would suspend electricity imports to Finland from 1 a.m. Saturday, citing “problems in receiving payments for electricity sold on the market”.
The grid operator said Finland’s electricity supply was not threatened by the move – in recent years electricity imported from Russia has accounted for around 10% of the country’s total consumption.
“The lack of electricity imports from Russia will be compensated by importing more electricity from Sweden and producing more electricity in Finland,” said Reima Päivinen, senior vice president of power system operations at Fingrid.
The move came ahead of Finland’s SDP board meeting in Helsinki to consider backing a landmark government proposal to join the Western defense alliance in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Sweden is also expected to apply for NATO membership – its ruling Social Democrats are expected to make a decision on Sunday.
President of the SDP Sirpa Paatero announcement Finland’s party board had voted overwhelmingly to back Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s call earlier this week to seek NATO membership, officially abandoning Finland’s longstanding position of neutrality towards Russia.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said on Saturday he had a “simple” phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to inform him of his country’s decision.
The Finnish leader said he said Putin how Russia’s actions in Ukraine have “changed Finland’s security environment” and confirmed his country’s intentions to apply for NATO membership in the coming days.
“The discussion was direct and unambiguous and took place without exaggeration,” Niinisto said.
The official Kremlin the press service said Putin warned Niinisto during the “frank” conversation that Finland’s decision “to abandon the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake, as there is no threat to Finland’s security.”
“Such a change in the country’s foreign policy could have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations, which have been built for many years in the spirit of good neighborliness and partnership cooperation, and have been mutually beneficial,” he said. he declared.