Raging Vladimir Putin could retaliate against Finland for announcing its intention to join NATO by turning off their gas supplies as soon as tomorrow, politicians fear.
Finnish MPs have been warned that Russian exports could be halted tomorrow in response to today’s announcement, according to Iltalehti.
This morning, president Sauli Niinisto and prime minister Sanna Marin said they want to join the security alliance ‘without delay’, with Sweden set to follow suit within days, drastically ramping up tensions between Russia and the West.
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The Kremlin had previously threatened it would secure ‘the entire destruction’ of the country and ‘the most undesirable consequences’, and today said it would ‘be forced to take retaliatory steps’, both ‘military-technical and other’.
There were already fears that Putin would exact revenge on Helsinki by turning off the taps by May 23 when the next gas bills are due from Finland to Russia, causing havoc to industry and food. But there are now fears the Kremlin could act sooner.
Politicians told reporters they have discussed a potential gas crisis, with Ville Tavio, chairman of the Basic Finnish Parliamentary Group, saying: ‘Preparations have been made for this and it is expected that this can happen.’
Earlier, Russian state TV accused the US of erecting a ‘new iron curtain’ in Europe in a furious response to Finland announcing its intention to join NATO.
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A Number 10 spokesman said the UK is ‘fully committed to NATO’s open door policy’ and said the only threatening behaviour in Europe has been Russia’s invasion.
The decision is a spectacular backfire for Putin who invaded Ukraine in part through fears of NATO expansion, with the Western pact’s presence on Russia’s borders now set to double from 754 miles to 1,584 miles.
When asked what he would say to Russia, Niinisto replied: ‘You caused this. Look in the mirror.’
After the announcement, Russian state TV’s Olga Skabeyeva said: ‘The main beneficiary here is America and Biden. And the main aim is a new iron curtain from the Barents to the Black Sea.’
Meanwhile Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the move was ‘definitely’ a threat to Russia and warned it would make Europe more unstable.
He said Finland had made ‘unfriendly steps’ against Russia and it was a cause for regret and a reason to impose a symmetrical response.
Asked whether this presented a threat to Russia, Peskov said: ‘Definitely. NATO expansion does not make our continent more stable and secure.’
Sweden is expected to follow Finland with its own bid which could come as soon as next week, with a parliament debate on Monday followed by a special cabinet meeting where the formal decision to apply will be taken, Daily Expressen said.
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