Friday, December 8, 2023

Former HS ambassador: When cash runs out in Moscow, there are few options


“Of course, the order came from the Kremlin,” Hannu Himanen, Finland’s former ambassador to Russia, told Helsingin Sanomat.

Russia’s extraordinary decision to freeze the accounts of Finnish embassies in Russia surprised Hannu Himmas, Finland’s former ambassador to Russia.

Himmanen told Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday that he did not suddenly remember any situation in which attempts were made to seriously downgrade diplomatic relations.

Of course the order came from the Kremlin, Himanan told HS.

Himanen predicted for HS that the account freeze would result in it becoming very difficult for Finnish missions in Russia.

Himanan reminds that if you run out of cash in Russia, you can’t get more from that country until you can access the accounts again. Moscow in particular has almost completely switched to electronic money transactions.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (green) confirmed on Wednesday that Russia has frozen the accounts of embassies and cannot access them.

Finland has received information to freeze bank accounts on 27 April. Finland has made a note to Russia in this matter on 4th May.

Read more: Russia freezes bank accounts of Finnish embassies – Haavisto: a note on the matter

So far no official explanation has been received from Russia.

Representatives of other EU countries have also had problems handling paid traffic.

— It appears flirting is involved, Haavisto speculated on Wednesday.

Russia expert Hanna Smith considers the situation completely extraordinary.

– Unheard. That never happened, Smith describes Ilta-Sanom.

Read more: Russia expert on freezing of Finnish accounts: “Unheard of, it’s never happened”

Hanna Smith speculates that Finland's position may expand to cover the representation of other EU countries as well.

Hanna Smith speculates that Finland’s position may expand to cover the representation of other EU countries as well. Photo: Seppo Karki/IS

Smith believes Russia is trying to use the account freeze to create a moment of surprise.

Russia has threatened several times that Finland’s NATO membership would have serious consequences. However, Russia can do different things to a limited extent, and this was not immediately expected to happen.

Smith insisted that Finland would not be left alone in this matter.

– We will certainly start talking with the members of the European Union and NATO and think about what are the common countermeasures.

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