The controversial Nord Stream gas pipeline has topped talks during a visit by Russian premier Vladimir Putin to Finland.
Arriving in Helsinki, Putin skirted past a group of angry protesters as he made his way to talks with Finnish counterpart Matti Vanhanen. ‘Ribbentrop-Molotov’ read one poster, a reference to the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939, a comparison some have made to the 6 billion euro pipeline deal between Berlin and Moscow. Along with Nord Stream, trade, transport and the thorny issue of timber tariffs also dominated discussions. Finland has objected strongly to Russia’s planned increase in wood exports The construction of the pipeline aims to deliver gas directly to Germany from Russia. Taking in the territorial waters of several states the project has been dogged by environmental and security concerns. Heavily polluted, the Baltic seabed is strewn with toxic munitions dating back to the Second World War. At present Russia provides Finland with all its gas but once completed Nord Stream should see some 55 billion cubic metres pumped to Western Europe every year.