In a Friday phone call President Joe Biden expressed his direct support to the leaders of Finland and Sweden in their bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Speaking with Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland in the joint call, the US president “underscored his support for NATO’s Open Door policy and for the right of Finland and Sweden to decide their own future, foreign policy, and security arrangements,” according to a call read-out.
“They reiterated their shared commitment to continued coordination in support of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people affected by the war,” the White House stated.
The call followed White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s answering in the affirmative Thursday when asked whether Washington would formally support the two Scandinavian countries’ membership bids. “We would support a NATO application by Finland and Sweden, yes.”
Earlier that day Finland’s prime minister as well as president in a joint statement said Helsinki would be applying to join the Western military alliance “without delay”.
The Kremlin was quick to threaten certain “military and technical measures” in response should its neighbor move into NATO. Finland shares an 810-mile border with Russia. Interestingly, Turkey has so far been the only major NATO power to voice its disapproval, concerned over the numbers of PKK “terrorists” that Sweden is home to.
The first action, though said to be long in coming over non-payment in rubles as previously demanded by President Putin of “unfriendly countries”, is the unprecedented halt in Russian electricity delivery, as Fox Business reports Saturday:
Electrical services, which account for 10% of the country’s total consumption, were discontinued “for the time being” at 1 a.m. local time, Finnish grid operator Fingrid said, according to the report.
#UPDATE Russia suspended electricity supplies to Finland overnight after its energy firm RAO Nordic threatened to cut off supplies over payment arrears, an official for Finland’s grid operator told @AFP
📸 The border crossing between Finland and Russia in Nuijamaa pic.twitter.com/4PoYl1yl3N — AFP News Agency (@AFP) May 14, 2022
Given Finland relies on Russia for 10% of its electricity supply, the stoppage is not expected to have significant effect – also as nuclear power accounts for over 35% of Finland’s electricity needs among five operating nuclear reactors.
The Finnish electricity network operator said it has contingency plans in place:
“We’re prepared for this and it won’t be difficult. We can make do with a bit more imports from Sweden and Norway,” Fingrid’s manager for operational planning Timo Kaukonen told AFP.
“We are forced to suspend the electricity import starting from May 14,” RAO Nordic, a subsidiary of Russian state energy holding Inter RAO, said Friday explaining as the reason that it had yet to receive payment for volumes sold in May. “RAO Nordic is not able to make payments for the imported electricity from Russia.”