Russia summons envoy, shuts down embassy, consulate offices in Finland
The Russian Foreign Ministry says the complex bilateral relations between Finland and Russia have been harmed by the latter's hostile policies toward Moscow.
The Finnish Ambassador to Russia Antti Helantera was summoned by the Russian Foreign Ministry, on Tuesday, to inform them about the shutdown of the Russian embassy's office in the Finnish city of Lappeenranta, as well as the offices of the St. Petersburg Consulate General of Finland in Murmansk and Petrozavodsk.
In a statement, it was noted that "the Finnish Ambassador to Moscow Antti Helantera was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry, who was informed that the Russian side had decided to close the office of the Russian Embassy in Lappeenranta on July 1."
Moreover, the statement added that "at the same time, the Finnish side was informed about the withdrawal of consent to the activities of the Petrozavodsk and Murmansk branches of the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg, which had been functioning since the early 1990s. The head of the Finnish diplomatic mission was handed a corresponding note by the Russian Foreign Ministry."
According to the Ministry, Russia made its choice as a result of Finland's hostile policy against Moscow, which has seriously harmed the complex bilateral relations between the two nations.
This comes a day after the launch of large-scale exercises involving 150 combat aircraft in Finland, Sweden, and Norway, which will end on June 9.
The exercises are set to last about two weeks, in which Helsinki will take part; a new member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and a co-host of the Arctic Challenge Exercise.
These exercises, held by the Scandinavian countries every two years since 2013, include 14 countries this year (12 NATO members, as well as Sweden, which is in the process of joining the bloc, and Switzerland).
With Finland's participation in the military maneuvers, its decades of neutrality will have ended, especially after its accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in early April.
Finland NATO accession to spur ambitions to militarize Arctic: Russia
On May 16, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko considered that Finland's accession to NATO and its location in northern Europe will "spur" the US-led military alliance's ambitions to militarize the Arctic.
"After Finland joins NATO, they will say that NATO has a vulnerability of 1,200 kilometers with a country that they have declared a direct threat to the alliance, so it is necessary to deploy American forces there, build foreign bases, place weapons depots, and increase military activity," Grushko told RTRN TV channel.
"Since Finland is located in the north of Europe, this will spur NATO's ambitions to militarize the Arctic," the Russian diplomat pointed out.
Sweden and Finland submitted applications for NATO membership in May 2022. On March 31 this year, Finland's application was ratified by all 30 members of the alliance. On the other hand, Sweden's bid is still pending approval by Hungary and Turkey.