HELSINKI • Finland is ready to cope in the event that Russia cuts off its supply of natural gas, the government's emergency preparedness committee said after a meeting yesterday.
Key Finnish politicians had been warned of a possible halt to gas exports by Russia yesterday, Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported on Thursday.
Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen said he could not confirm the report while the Kremlin said the newspaper article was "most likely a hoax" and reiterated that state-owned gas company Gazprom remained a reliable gas supplier.
Gazprom did not reply to a request for comment. State-owned Gasgrid Finland had no indication of any disruption to gas flows yesterday, a spokesman said.
"Finland is prepared for a suspension of Russian natural gas imports," the committee said.
The country imports most of its gas from neighbouring Russia but gas accounts for only about 5 per cent of its annual energy consumption. However, losing that gas supply would mean industry giants such as Neste and Metsa and also other firms in the forestry, chemical and food industries would need to find alternative energy sources or adapt their production.
Finnish leaders had said on Thursday that the nation must apply to join the Nato military alliance "without delay" in a historic policy shift triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Moscow said the move was a threat and warned it was ready to respond.
Last week, the Finnish government said it was prepared for the possibility that Russia might cut off its gas supply in late May as a response to the country's refusal to abide by Russian demands for payment in roubles.