Finland, as well as its EU allies, made a decision to shoot itself in the foot economically by unilaterally slashing energy purchases from Russia. Moreover, the country complicated the process of issuing visas to Russians, who used to make up a big income for the tourism industry. However, the leadership of the state blames a crisis that became the outcome of all listed above on the Russian president.
Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, put the blame for the energy crisis on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The first was the pandemic, the second was the tide of war coming in Europe, and the third is the energy crisis, which both Finland and all other European countries are in the grip of, due to the war and the fact that Putin is using energy as a weapon against Europe,” Marin claimed.
The Finnish prime minister did not elaborate on how the Russian President, who has repeatedly said that Moscow remains ready to sign new long-term gas contracts with European countries, is responsible for the energy crisis in the Nordic country.
Finnish economy to expect recession next year
Economists expect the Finnish economy to slide into a recession in 2023 amid a downturn caused in part by a spike in energy prices and the country’s rejection of low-priced and reliable Russian supplies after refusing to pay in rubles.
It is specified that before the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis, Finland depended on Russia for nearly 70 per cent of its natural gas and 35 per cent of its oil, as well as 14 per cent of its electricity. Along with the halt in imports of Russian gas, Helsinki joined its EU partners in banning Russian oil.
Finland has also placed restrictions on Russian tourists by cutting visa applications in half from an average of 1,000 per day to 500 per day starting September 1, 2022, and setting quotas on tourism visas to about 100, with the rest reserved for family ties, work, and study.
Russians usually make up about 20 per cent of the country’s tourism earnings, which is 15 billion euros-a-year in revenue. Earlier this year, Travel/Visit Finland director, Kristiina Hietasaari, estimated that the sector could lose over 600 million euros without Russian travelers.
In addition to curbing Russian energy purchases and cutting access to Russian tourists, Finland has applied for NATO membership, and is expected to become a formal member of the bloc. Russian officials warned that if NATO military bases were deployed near Russia, Moscow would respond in kind to “create the same threats in the territories from which they threaten us.”