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Putin warns Helsinki that abandoning neutrality is a “mistake”

Vladimir Putin, this week during a visit to Shochi. / AFP

The Finnish president promoted a call in which he informed the Russian leader of the accession in a “direct and blunt” conversation

The desire expressed by the Finnish authorities to integrate the country into NATO has opened a deep crisis with Russia. The threats launched in recent days from Moscow have been joined by warnings from President Vladimir Putin, who spoke yesterday by phone with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö, to warn him that joining the Alliance would be a “mistake.” Shortly before, the Russian operator had cut off the flow of electricity to Finland.

According to the statement released yesterday by the Kremlin, after the telephone interview of the Russian and Finnish presidents, «Vladimir Putin stressed that the end of the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake, since there is no threat to the security of Finland. ».

The note also underlines that “such a change in political orientation can have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations, which have developed for years in a spirit of good neighborliness and cooperation, being advantageous to both.” As for Ukraine, Putin assured that talks for a cessation of hostilities “are practically suspended by kyiv, which shows no interest in a constructive and serious dialogue.”

“Avoid stress”

The initiative to make the call came from the Finnish president, according to whose cabinet the objective was to “inform” Putin of the decision of the Nordic country to join the Atlantic Alliance due to the “massive invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022 , which has altered the security environment in Finland’. The Finnish Presidency noted that ‘the conversation was direct, straightforward and smooth with the important aim of avoiding tensions’.

Commenting on the conversation between the two leaders, the adviser to the Ukrainian Presidency, Mijailo Podoliak, stated that «Russia has finally fed up the whole world, its threats to no one have any effect. NATO’s borders will reach as far as the outskirts of St. Petersburg. This is how Niinistö’s conversation with the Russian president can be translated, from diplomatic language to plain language. Welcome to the new reality, Mr Putin.”

On Thursday, after the Finnish government announced its willingness to join the Alliance, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, described the initiative as a “threat” while the former president and current number two of the Russian Security Council, Dmitri Medvedev, waved the specter of a “nuclear war”. “Russia will be forced to take retaliatory measures, both of a technical-military nature and of any other type, in order to curb the threats to its national security that arise in this regard,” a statement from the Ministry of Defense continued. Russian Foreign.

It so happens that Russia yesterday cut off electricity from Finland, which constitutes 10% of what it consumes. The Russian operator Inter RAO motivated the decision on the fact that Helsinki has not paid the corresponding invoice for a week and affirmed that this situation will continue “as long as the problems in receiving payments are not resolved.”

After the import of electricity from Russia was limited, prices in Finland have doubled and some analysts do not rule out that, given the situation, the Nordic country will completely give up Russian energy supplies, which had not been interrupted in more 20 years old.

The Russian daily Kommersant notes that due to worsening relations with Russia, Finland is gradually ceasing energy cooperation with Moscow. The same newspaper cites the case of the rescission of the contract with the Russian atomic consortium Rosatom for the construction of the Finnish Hanhikivi-1 nuclear power plant and the refusal to pay in rubles for gas supplies, as Putin demands. The Finnish daily Iltalehti believes that Russia is about to cut off the flow of natural gas to Finland for failing to comply with the requirement to pay the bill in Russian currency.

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