May 13, 2022
Two important news items on the Russia-Ukraine conflict:
- Russia to cut electricity to Finland from Saturday
- Georgian breakaway territory sets July 17 referendum on joining Russia…
No more Russian electricity for Finland
Russia will suspend electricity supplies to Finland this weekend, a supplier said on Friday as tensions rise over Helsinki’s NATO bid following the conflict in Ukraine.
“We are forced to suspend the electricity import starting from May 14,” said RAO Nordic, a subsidiary of Russian state energy holding Inter RAO that sells its electricity on the Nordic market.
It blamed the suspension on not having received payment for electricity sold in May and said as a consequence it was no longer able to pay for more electricity from Russia.
“This situation is exceptional and happened for the first time in over 20 years of our trading history,” RAO Nordic said, hoping the situation would “soon” improve and the trade could resume.
The Finnish electricity network operator said it would be able to make do without Russian electricity.
“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.
He said a little less than 10% of electricity consumed in Finland comes from Russia.
The announcement of the cut in electricity supplies came one day after Finland’s leaders declared their nation must apply to join NATO “without delay” — a seismic change in policy since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The Kremlin has warned Russia would “definitely” see Finnish membership as a threat, while the Russian foreign ministry said Moscow would be “forced to take reciprocal steps, military-technical and other, to address the resulting threats.”
Georgia’s South Ossetia region to vote referendum for joining Russia
The president of the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia on Friday announced the territory would hold a referendum on July 17 on whether to become part of Russia, Tass news agency said.
Moscow recognized South Ossetia and the coastal region of Abkhazia as independent after fighting a war with Georgia in 2008.
It has provided extensive financial support, offered Russian citizenship to their populations and stationed thousands of troops there.
Tass said President Anatoly Bibilov made the announcement in a decree.
The small largely mountainous region has a population of around 60,000 and borders North Ossetia, which is part of Russia.
Bibilov said on March 30 that South Ossetia would take steps in the near future to join Russia, prompting Georgia to denounce the idea of a referendum as unacceptable.
As in the Russian-speaking Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, Moscow has used recognition of the breakaway regions, and the awarding of citizenships, to maintain an armed presence in an area of the former Soviet Union that it sees as part of its natural sphere of influence. [Moscow Times, Reuters]