Putin warned Finland that joining NATO would be a mistake

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö on Saturday that it would be a mistake for Helsinki to relinquish its neutral status and join NATO, Reuters reported, citing the Kremlin.

According to Putin, there are no threats to Finland’s security, and a potential change in its foreign policy could worsen bilateral relations.

The Helsinki presidency said Niinisto explained to Putin “how fundamentally Russia’s demands at the end of 2021, aimed at preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia’s mass invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, have changed the security environment.” in Finland “. He added that his country wants to maintain relations with its Russian neighbor “in the right and professional way”.

The initiative for the conversation came from Niinistö, who wanted to personally inform the Russian president about Finland’s plans to apply for NATO membership next week, Reuters reports.

Moscow described the conversation as an “outright exchange of views”, a diplomatic euphemism used as a synonym for a difficult conversation.

Niinistö said the dialogue with Putin was “direct and clear and conducted without aggravation. Avoiding tensions was considered important.”

Russia has said Finland’s entry into NATO is a threat to which it will respond but did not specify how. On Friday, Putin discussed Russia’s security risks from joining another Atlantic Council neighbor with members of the Security Council.

The Kremlin’s press service reports that the two presidents also discussed peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, which the Russian country said were “effectively interrupted by Kyiv, which is not interested in a serious and constructive dialogue,” Interfax reported.

The Kremlin has promised a “symmetrical” response to Finland’s entry into NATO

Undoubtedly, “the Finnish government’s support for NATO accession is a threat to Russia that will neither make Europe nor the world more stable.

This was said by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

In the morning, the President and Prime Minister of Finland expressed the position that their country should “immediately” apply to join the defense union.

The answer will depend on the situation.

According to Peskov, the steps announced by Helsinki may be regrettable, but they will also provoke a “symmetrical” response.

The spokesman for the Russian presidency did not give details. “It will all depend on how this process of NATO enlargement unfolds, on the extent to which military infrastructure is approaching our borders,” Peskov said.

Another representative of the Russian authorities have hinted at a possible measure – Deputy Chairman of the Security Council and former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. He openly threatened a nuclear Baltic, a step to boost Russia’s defenses in the region if there is a Scandinavian NATO enlargement (only Norway is a member of the peninsula).

“Measures of a military-technical nature”

A statement from Russia’s foreign ministry later issued a statement threatening Helsinki with “retaliatory measures of both a military and other nature” upon joining NATO. According to Russia, accession would be a “radical change in the country’s foreign policy” and would “harm security in northern Europe”.

Russia began amassing troops in Ukraine last year, arguing that even the country’s plan to join NATO posed a threat. If Finland becomes part of the union, it will be the longest border between Russia and the bloc – 1340 km.

NATO is moving in our direction. Therefore, of course, there will be a special analysis and elaboration of the necessary measures to balance the situation and ensure our security.
– Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Kremlin

Reuters sources said earlier today that NATO was awaiting Finland’s application for membership, and that of neighboring Sweden in the coming days. The two neutrals reported sharp increases in support for NATO membership after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Russia has stopped supplying electricity to Finland

Russia carried out its threat on Friday and cut off electricity supplies to Finland at midnight. This did not lead to a power outage, as Helsinki compensated for the reduction in the quantities supplied by additional imports from Sweden.

The Finnish subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned RAO, RAO Nordic, which is responsible for selling Russian electricity to Finland, said on Friday it would cut off electricity supplies due to unpaid bills. This comes just days after Helsinki announced that it would apply to join NATO, BTA reports.

“Exports (of electricity) from Russia to Finland are currently zero, with deliveries suspended at midnight, as announced,” Timo Kaukonen, a spokesman for the Finnish company Fingrid, told AFP.

The grid is balanced thanks to imports of electricity from Sweden, according to data from Fingrid, which said yesterday that it could easily do without Russian electricity.

So far, Finland has covered about 10% of its electricity consumption with imports from Russia.

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