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Russia cuts gas supplies to Finland for 'refusing to pay in roubles'

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By Euronews  with AFP
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A photo taken on May 12, 2022 shows pipes at the Gasum plant in Raikkola, Imatra, Finland.
A photo taken on May 12, 2022 shows pipes at the Gasum plant in Raikkola, Imatra, Finland.   -   Copyright  VESA MOILANEN / LEHTIKUVA / AFP

Russian energy giant Gazprom said on Saturday it had suspended all gas deliveries to Finland after Helsinki refused to pay in roubles. 

Finnish state energy company Gasum did not accept the terms set by Moscow by the 20 May deadline, leading Gazprom to "completely stopped gas deliveries," the Russian group said in a statement.

At the same time, many believe that the Kremlin has used this as an opportunity to retaliate for Finland's decision to apply for membership in NATO -- a move Russian President Vladimir Putin sees as hostile.

In reaction to Finland's decision, the Kremlin has stated that it will be "forced to take reciprocal steps, military-technical and other, to address the resulting threats."

'Unfriendly countries have to pay in roubles'

After Russia's invasion of Ukraine on 24 February and the imposition of Western sanctions, Putin demanded in late March that buyers of Russian gas from "unfriendly" countries pay in roubles from accounts in Russia or risk being cut off from supplies.

The list of "unfriendly countries" includes the US, EU member states, the UK, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan, South Korea, Norway and Australia. The EU states are the main consumers of Russian gas.

"As of 1 April, gas payments must be made in roubles using new bank details, which the partners were informed of in good time," Gazprom said.

The Russian group says it supplied 1.49 billion cubic metres of natural gas to Finland in 2021, representing two-thirds of the country's consumption.

However, natural gas accounts for about 6% of the energy consumed in Finland according to the 2020 figures, and the Nordic country has indicated that the consumers will not be affected by Gazprom's decision as it relies on other sources of supply.

In late April, Gazprom suspended all gas deliveries to Bulgaria and Poland, saying the two EU countries had also not made payments in roubles.