Russia Halts Gas Supplies to Finland as the US backs Sweden and Finland’s NATO bid

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Moscow — Russia is halting its natural gas supply to Finland, reports the Finnish state-owned energy firm Gasum.

Moscow — Russia is halting its natural gas supply to Finland, reports the Finnish state-owned energy firm Gasum.

Finland has refused to pay for its supplies in Roubles, and it follows the Finnish announcement to apply for NATO membership.

Gasum called the move “regrettable.” However, there would be no disruption to customers. Russia has continued to supply gas to many European countries despite the Ukraine conflict.

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After Western countries sanctioned Russia over the war, Russia called for “unfriendly” countries to pay for gas in Russian currency. A move the EU considers blackmail.

Finland imports a significant chunk of its gas from Russia, but gas accounts for less than a tenth of its energy consumption.

“Regrettably, Russia’s natural gas supply will now be halted,” said Mika Wiljanen, CEO of Gasum.

“However, we have carefully prepared for this situation. And provided there reno disruptions in the gas transmission network, we will be able to supply all our customers with gas in the coming months,” he added.

Asked about the matter, a Kremlin spokesman said, “it is obvious that nobody will deliver anything for free.”

On Sunday, Russia also cut electricity supplies to Finland. It had threatened retaliation should Finland apply to join NATO.

In a separate development, Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft said on Friday; that former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had informed them he would no longer serve on their board.

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Schröder has faced increasing public outrage over the lucrative role. He has refused to criticize Russia’s President Vladimir Putin over the conflict, who he counts as a personal friend.

Meanwhile, in Washington, President Joe Biden said Sweden and Finland have the full; total, and complete US backing in their decision to apply for NATO membership.

This week, both countries submitted their applications to be part of the Western defense alliance; marking a significant shift in European geopolitics.

The two nations require the support of all 30 NATO member states to join the alliance. Turkey has opposed the move by the two Nordic countries.

President Biden called Sweden and Finland’s applications “a watershed moment in European security on Thursday. He spoke alongside Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto at the White House.

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He said, “New members joining NATO is not a threat to any nation.” The president added that two new members in the “high north” would “enhance the security of our allies and deepen our security cooperation across the board.”

Meanwhile, Russia has repeatedly said it views NATO as a threat. It has warned of “consequences” if the block proceeds with its expansion plans.

Turkey has accused both Finland and Sweden of hosting suspected militants of PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Turkey views the group as a terrorist organization.

However, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and British Defense Minister Ben Wallace; have expressed confidence that they will eventually address these concerns.

President Biden’s comments arrived as the US Senate voted on the approval of a new $40bn bill to extend military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. It is the most significant emergency aid package so far for Ukraine.

The US passed the bill with broad bipartisan support on 10 May. The bill, expected to be passed earlier this week; was blocked by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul over a dispute regarding spending oversight.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican’s Senate leader; dismissed these concerns and told reporters that Congress had a “moral responsibility” to support “a sovereign democracy’s self-defense.”

McConnell said, “Anyone concerned about the cost of supporting Ukraine’s victory should consider the much higher cost if Ukraine loses,” 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin had urged Congress to approve the package. They warned that the US military had only enough funds to supply weapons to Kyiv until 19 May.

Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s President, praised the aid package as “a significant US contribution to restoring security and peace in Ukraine, Europe, and the world.”

The package raises the total US aid given to Ukraine to over $50bn. This includes $6bn for security assistance such as training, equipment, weapons, and support.

Another $8.7bn will replenish stocks of US equipment already sent to Ukraine.

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