As Finland prepares its NATO membership bid, Russia has reportedly halted electricity exports to the country overnight on Friday, according to an official at Finland's power grid operator who spoke to AFP.
RAO Nordic, the company responsible for Russian electricity sales to Finland, announced on Friday that it would stop deliveries on Saturday, citing issues with 'unpaid bills', although it is unclear whether this is related to European sanctions on Russia.
“This situation is exceptional and it is the first time this has happened in over 20 years of our trading history,” the company said in a statement, adding that they hope the situation will be resolved soon.
Timo Kaukonen, an Operations Manager at Fingrid, the Finnish network operator, told AFP that exports from Russia to Finland "are at zero right now, and have been since midnight."
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Finland used to import about 10% of its total electricity consumption from its Russian neighbour.
The network is balanced thanks to imports from Sweden, according to the real-time map of Fingrid, which indicated on Friday that they would be able to survive without Russian electricity.
Retaliation for sanctions or NATO?
RAO Nordic, a Helsinki-based subsidiary of Russia's InterRAO, justified the cut on Friday by saying it had not received payment for electricity supplied to Finland since 6 May.
The company did not say whether these settlement problems were related to European sanctions targeting the Russian economy after the invasion of Ukraine.
The announcement comes against the backdrop of rising tensions between Moscow and Helsinki. Finland has stated its willingness to join NATO "without delay" under the influence of the Russian offensive in Ukraine.
The formal announcement of the Finnish candidacy is expected on Sunday in a scheduled press conference of President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin.