Finland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Wednesday, May 17, that Russia had frozen the bank accounts of its embassy in Moscow and consulate in Saint Petersburg at the end of last month.
“The accounts of the Finnish missions in Russia are frozen and cannot be used at the moment,” Haavisto told reporters, adding that Finland had been in contact with Russian authorities.
“A note was sent to Russia on this issue. Russia has not yet given an official explanation why the accounts have been frozen,” Haavisto said. He added Finland had not frozen the accounts of Russian diplomatic missions in Finland.
Therefore “it cannot be said that this is some kind of reaction to measures taken against Russia,” Haavisto said. But he said, “the reason for this is probably, to some extent, that European Union sanctions on financial transactions have caused headaches for Russian missions in the West.”
Haavisto explained that other EU countries experienced similar problems with payment transactions in Russia. “However, to our knowledge, the restrictions on Finland are among the most severe,” he said.
Finland, which became NATO’s newest member early last month, was made aware of the frozen bank accounts on April 27.
The freeze coincided with the announcement by Finnish state-owned utility Fortum that control of its Russian subsidiary had been seized by Moscow after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree approving the takeover.
So far, Finnish representatives have operated normally in Russia thanks to their cash reserves. “But it is clear that the situation, if it continues for a long time, may bring the need to find new solutions,” Haavisto said.