Russia announced that it would close the Finnish consulate in Saint Petersburg and expel nine diplomats from that country, in retaliation for the expulsion of the same number of Russian diplomats by Helsinki.

“Nine employees of the Finnish Embassy in Russia and the Finnish Consulate General in St. Petersburg are declared persona non gratasaid the Russian Foreign Ministry on July 6.

The ministry added that the agreement allowing the operation of the Consulate General of Finland in Saint Petersburg would be terminated from October 1. These measures were announced to the Finnish Ambassador, Antti Helanterä, summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow.

He was served “a strong protest” because of the “confrontational and anti-Russian policy” of the Finnish authorities, which, according to Russian diplomacy, aims to “demolish decades of mutually beneficial Russian-Finnish relations”.

Helsinki sanctions Russian businessmen and landlords

“It is clear that we are obliged to start preparing similar measures, we must respond to them,” Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo reacted to the press, referring to a possible closure of the Russian consulate in the city of Turku. Later in the day, Helsinki announced it would tighten entry into the country for Russian applicants, businessmen and landlords from July 10, the Finnish Foreign Ministry said.

On June 6, the Finnish authorities announced that they were expelling nine Russian diplomats stationed in Helsinki, accusing them of working for the Russian intelligence services.

Relations between the two neighbors deteriorated sharply after the Russian armed intervention in Ukraine in February 2022. Finland has since broken with decades of military non-alignment by applying in May 2022 to NATO, of which it is a member. officially became a member in April.

“The terms of Finland’s entry into NATO, currently under discussion, create a threat to the security of the Russian Federation and incite the Kiev regime to go to war”, denounced Russian diplomacy on July 6. .

In May, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto announced that Russia had frozen the bank accounts of the Finnish embassy in Moscow and the consulate in St. Petersburg in late April. The freeze coincided with Finland’s state-owned Fortum announcing that Moscow had taken control of its Russian subsidiary, with President Vladimir Putin signing a presidential decree approving the move. In February, Finland began construction of a 200 kilometer pilot fence section on the Russian border.

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