Precisely a week after Russia cut electricity supplies to Finland over non-payment (in rubles), Moscow has made its first explicitly retaliatory move over its Nordic neighbor's application to NATO with an announcement to cut off natural gas.
Finland's state-owned gas wholesaler Gasum has announced natural gas imports from Russia will stop Saturday, saying in a statement, "On the afternoon of Friday May 20, Gazprom Export informed Gasum that natural gas supplies to Finland under Gasum’s supply contract will be cut on Saturday May 21, 2022 at 07.00."
Company CEO Mika Wiljanen stressed to the public it is adequately prepared “and provided that there will be no disruptions in the gas transmission network, we will be able to supply all our customers with gas in the coming months.”
"Gasum will supply natural gas to its customers from other sources through the Balticconnector pipeline. Gasum’s gas filling stations in the gas network area will continue in normal operation," he said.
And Bloomberg confirms based on the statement, "In the meantime, supplies continue to flow into Finland via the Balticconnector pipeline from Estonia, but its capacity may not be enough to meet demand. That’s after a number of companies have already switched to other fuels or secured alternative supplies." The report adds: "For the coming winter, the government on Friday agreed on renting a floating LNG terminal together with Estonia."
While Gasum itself didn't go into the reasons for the gas supply halt, it comes just two days after both Finland and Sweden submitted applications for NATO membership, which President Vladimir Putin subsequently called a problem. Kremlin statements earlier assured a coming "military and technical" response.
Like with last week's Russian electricity cut-off, Helsinki has refused to acquiesce to Putin's demand that Russia be paid in rubles amid ratcheting US and EU sanctions as punishment for the invasion of Ukraine. Poland and Bulgaria were previously the first to have their taps cut off.
As we previewed earlier, natural gas represents only 5% of Finland's total energy consumption among diverse sources, though of that supply the country relies on 60%-70% coming from Russia, but is typically used by Finnish factories and less so for residential heating. Finland's mains sources include oil, biomass and nuclear power.
Starting a week ago, Finnish national media first warned that Moscow was threatening to cut the country off from its gas supply. Citing unnamed sources at the time, Finland’s Iltalehti reported the warning was communicated from Kremlin officials to top Finnish politicians. This had been accompanied by a public foreign ministry statement saying, "Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop the threats to its national security that arise in this regard."